Boys Water Polo: Lockport’s surreal season not over yet
For a program that had never reached a sectional title game, let alone the state tournament, the last few seconds of last Saturday’s 10-9 win over Homewood-Flossmoor were unbelievable for Lockport’s boys water polo team.
“It was euphoric,” Lockport coach Joe Lewandowski said. “The last 20 seconds after we made a critical block and had the ball, the fans went so crazy and they started chanting [from] 10 [down] to one. I started picking coaches and team members up and throwing them in the air.”
That was the emotion the Porters put out after advancing to state for the first time. They will face the hosts of the state tournament, Stevenson, at 8:15 p.m. in the quarterfinals Thursday.
A great defensive play by Chris Neylon and a stellar save from goalie Matt Yaeger helped preserve a three-goal Porters advantage at the half, holding off a furious charge from H-F, a team they had lost to twice during the regular season in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
Coming into the season, the Porters’ goals were modest. They wanted to finish over .500 and try to reach a sectional title game. Things went much better than that. They are 21-7 heading into the state tournament this weekend.
“Our conference has been so competitive the last few years, so being .500 is a huge achievement,” Lewandowski said. “We talked about getting to the Sweet 16, and we said anything after that would be a bonus.”
The Porters have gotten back to work, preparing for a state tournament where there will be a new champion crowned after eight-time defending champion Fenwick was knocked out by Lyons Saturday. But the glow of Saturday’s win for Lockport has yet to wear off.
“They were still excited about the win, and they have every right to be,” Lewandowski said. “We went through our regular practice (Monday), but the kids were still pretty hopped up on that win. I told them today, we are just going to do the things that we usually do.
‘‘Our ultimate goal is that we have to set a new one. They want to try to medal and get by Stevenson.”
If the Porters do advance, they will face the winner of the Latin/Loyola quarterfinal.
Lyons has established itself as the clear No. 1 team in the state going into the weekend, handing Fenwick its first two losses since 2010 and knocking the Friars out in the sectional final. The Lions face Naperville North at 5:45 p.m. on the other side of the bracket, and will face the winner of the 4:30 p.m. game between Fremd and Sandburg in the semifinals Saturday morning.