Boys Water Polo: Sandburg denies Homewood-FlossmoorSandburg # 10 Matt Veldman and HF #4 Kevin Kuchta battle for the ball in their game played at Sandburg HS at 131st and LaGrange Road, Orland Park, IL on Thursday afternoon, 4-5-12. Sandburg won 9-5.|Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 5, 2012 8:44PM
After Monday’s 13-12 win over Lockport, Sandburg coach Jim Caliendo put the team’s emphasis back on defense.
Thursday, the Eagles picked it up on “D” at the right time, earning a 9-5 win over Homewood-Flossmoor in a battle for first in the SouthWest Suburban Blue in Orland Park.
“That was our best defensive game,” Caliendo said. “We were switching really well. I was a bit frustrated by our offense, but we’ve gotten two big wins this week, against Lockport and H-F.”
Mike Malecki came up big with eight saves for the Eagles (8-1, 5-0). Stephen Zieler (4 goals) and Mike O’Malley (3 goals) led the offense.
Kevin Kuchta and Zach Vargo led H-F (8-6, 3-1) with two goals each.
Malecki originally was going to alternate in goal with Dakota Legge, who started the game. But after shutting out H-F in the second quarter, Malecki played the rest of the way as Caliendo said he “wanted to ride the hot hand.”
“The last couple of games, I’ve played really bad,” Malecki said. “I came in today with a totally different attitude. I was really nervous before, but today I relaxed and did what I knew I could.”
Leading 3-2 after one, the Eagles stretched the lead to four by halftime. After O’Malley scored from the right wing, Sandburg nicely executed on consecutive man-up opportunities. Each time, Kevin Tunney passed across the pool to an open Zieler, who finished.
H-F got to within two twice in the second half, including at 7-5 with 4:44 left in the game, but could get no closer.
Sandburg’s execution on power plays was key, as it went 5-for-7.
“Our loss (Tuesday) to Latin really fired us up,” Zieler said. “I don’t think you want to be the team that plays us after a loss.”
Lucas Krull and Matt Veldman each scored once for Sandburg. Zack Peterson had a goal and Jakobie McClellan five saves for H-F.