Boys Water Polo: After slow start, Fenwick topples Oak Park-River Forest
Updated: May 11, 2012 6:42PM
With the amount of key players missing recently due to illness or injuries, Fenwick’s boys water polo team has become accustomed to some slow starts.
That was the case once again in Friday’s York Sectional semifinal against fourth-seeded Oak Park-River Forest. The state’s best player, Matt Farmer, has been out for two weeks now due to an illness. Justin White is still out due to concussion symptoms, and Jimmy Mullen and Viken Huening only recently got back into action.
That contributed to a 2-2 first quarter against the Huskies. But once the top-seeded Friars settled in, it was business as usual.
Fenwick posted a 14-9 win to improve to 31-1 on the season and advance to Saturday’s noon sectional final against Lyons, the team that ended Fenwick’s 82-game winning streak two weeks ago.
“Sometimes we come out in games and don’t really have the chemistry right away, especially without our No. 1 offensive player,” Huening said. “Defensively, we come out 100 percent. Sometimes it takes us a little bit to get it going. We’ve played in games like this before where we’ve been tied early on in the game and usually it’s just about composure and keeping cool.”
OPRF’s Nathan Pimentel scored with 59 seconds left in the first quarter to tie things at 2-2, giving the Huskies some confidence. But in the middle two quarters, Fenwick was back to being its dominant self. A 6-1 second period, keyed by two goals apiece from Dan Kelly and Rich Mueller. The Friars followed that up with a 5-2 third period, with two goals coming from Mullen, to stretch the lead to 13-5.
“We’re still getting used to having everybody together,” Fenwick coach Kyle Perry said. “We have almost the whole lineup now. It was a good warm-up game to get ready (for the finals). I thought we were challenged appropriately. Some people said that they were the best four seed in the state, and I’d say that without a doubt.”
Now the focus turns to the match that every water polo fan in the state wants to see, a showdown with Lyons in a game that will have more of a state championship feel than a sectional title feel. They are the top two ranked teams in the state.
“We like to think of it as an off game the first time,” Huening said. “We’re all really confident coming into tomorrow. You have to give them credit, but we’re pretty confident and ready to do what we’ve worked on. Hopefully that will give us success.”