Boys Water Polo: Naperville Central wades to win over Waubonsie Valley
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:57PM
Naperville Central’s boys water polo team is accustomed to one thing, and that is winning.
Despite being knocked off its usual perch as the No. 1 seed at the Metea Valley Sectional by rival Naperville North, the second-seeded Redhawks are out to show that they are still a team to be reckoned with. They got their postseason journey off to a solid start with a 16-11 win over Waubonsie Valley in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Central (21-10) started off slowly, up only 5-4 at the half, but the Redhawks pushed the lead to 15-8 by the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Warriors (15-16) away and advance to Friday’s semifinals against third-seeded Hinsdale Central.
“Once we decide to play as a team and play four solid quarters of water polo, we’re going to be pretty good,” Central coach Bill Salentine said. “We came out really rusty in the first quarter (up only 2-1). We had a really good third quarter and did a pretty decent job of holding onto the lead in the fourth quarter.”
Early on, it was sluggish on both sides, and Waubonsie, the seventh seed, was more than happy to stay close to the Redhawks. Three second-quarter goals from Nathan Morris helped the Warriors go into the half down only 5-4.
“I was actually disappointed in a lot of our play tonight, but you can’t be upset going into the half down by one, at least from my standpoint as a seven seed facing a two,” Waubonsie coach Matt Neimeier said. “We just didn’t play consistent enough. If you play consistently for three minutes, and then off for three minutes, you just let them back into the game. That was our problem.”
Central looked like a different team in the third quarter. After struggling to get much going offensively in the first half, the Redhawks scored eight goals in the third quarter. Matt Reasons scored three of his six goals in the quarter to build the lead to 13-8. Reasons and Conor Lamb then opened the fourth quarter with goals to help the Redhawks get some separation with a 15-8 lead.
“I think the first two quarters we just played selfishly,” Reasons said. “We just had to see the open man and convert. That’s what we have to do from now on. We knew that we could beat them. We knew we were better than them.”
The next test for the Redhawks is a tough Hinsdale Central squad in the semifinals Friday.
“Hopefully we knocked off the rust and we can compete on Friday,” Salentine said. “A lot of these guys remember last year (winning sectionals). Hopefully we’ll use that to motivate and finish strong.”