Boys Water Polo: Naperville Central splashes past Neuqua ValleyNaperville Central's Dennis Herron moves the ball against Neuqua Valley at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Ill., on Thursday, April 12, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 12, 2012 10:14PM
It wasn’t revenge, it was a matter of vindication.
In recent years, the Naperville Central boys water polo team has had its way with Neuqua Valley.
However, when the squads met in the season-opening kickoff tournament earlier this season the Wildcats scored a rare win against the Redhawks.
Central made sure it reasserted its domination in the series as the Redhawks scored an impressive 16-7 win in the rematch on Thursday evening.
“We really wanted to come out and prove something,” Central coach Bill Salentine said. “We hadn’t lost to them in a few years and some of the guys really took that to heart.”
Central (8-3) came out and dominated as it secured a 6-1 lead after the first quarter thanks to four goals from Dennis Herron.
The Redhawks increased their lead to 9-3 at halftime and did so because they were 3-of-3 with a man-advantage.
“We stress playing with a man up all of the time in practice,” said Herron, who finished with five goals. “(Being successful with the man up) is a big key to our style of play. When you get those situations, you have to take advantage and we did.”
The Redhawks converted 6 of 9 chances they had to play with the 20-second man advantage while the Wildcats were unsuccessful in each of their man advantage chances.
Joining Herron as multiple goal-scorers for Central included Matt Reasons with four goals, T.J. Johnson with three and Kyle Stablein with two.
Robert Vechiola and Will Russell each had three goals for a Neuqua team that is still adjusting to first-year coach Adam Hoffer and his style.
“We are getting better and we’re making adjustments,” said Hoffer, whose team fell to 7-8. “We’re 15 games into the season and we have 15 left. There is a lot of water polo left and I think by the postseason we have a good chance of still coming alive, but we have to make that turnaround right now.”
Central goalie Matt Prestinario had 12 stops while Neuqua counterpart Eric Stahl had eight saves.
Despite the win, the Redhawks still have work to do if they want to make a successful run through the postseason, which is quickly approaching.
“We need to place an emphasis on being sharper with our passes and more efficient when we have possession,” Stablein said.