Boys Water Polo: Seniors get prom present with Lockport win over Sandburg
Trying to win the Brother Rice Tournament for the second straight season, Lockport faced what seemed to be nearly an impossible task in the championship game Saturday night.
Missing all seven of their seniors, including four starters, who were attending the school’s prom, the Porters would have to beat a Sandburg squad that topped the fully intact Lockport team earlier in the season.
The young Porters embraced the challenge.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while how the seniors might not be able to play if we made the championship,” Lockport’s Matt Cavanaugh said. “We knew we’d have to call up a bunch of players (from the JV team). We knew we’d have to really step up.”
Cavanaugh and fellow junior Eric Johnson rose to the occasion in a big way, combining for seven goals as the Porters stunned the Eagles 9-8.
Lockport (18-2) gained confidence early, shutting out the Eagles (17-6) in the first quarter and taking a 2-0 lead.
“It was definitely an eye-opener,” Johnson said. “We knew we could play with them. Me and (Cavanaugh) weren’t on varsity last year when we won this tournament, so this was even bigger for us.”
Sandburg fought back to a 4-4 tie by halftime and seemed set to take control behind Zach Roper, who scored five goals.
The Porters, though, had every answer.
When Roper scored his fourth goal to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead in the opening minute of the third, Lockport responded with a 3-0 run, Johnson scoring twice.
After Sandburg pulled into a 7-7 tie on Majd Ibrahim’s goal with 4:07 left in the game, it was Cavanaugh providing the response with a pair of goals.
The backbreaker for the Eagles came when Cavanaugh unloaded a shot from mid-pool at the shot clock buzzer and found the net for a 9-7 lead with 1:40 to go.
Roper scored again and Sandburg had a chance to tie, but a turnover with 18 seconds left sealed its fate.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Lockport coach Joe Lewandowski said. “We played our game. We showed that we have depth and all these kids are hungry to get their chance.”
Zach Elias and Joey Tomczuk added a goal each for Lockport, and Pat Melaniphy made 10 saves.
Earlier, the teams concluded pool play — which began Friday — with a pair of wins each, Lockport beating Latin 21-5 and Waubonsie Valley 17-9 and Sandburg beating Brother Rice 10-5 and Hinsdale Central 17-2.
“The seniors are going to be shocked,” Cavanaugh said. “I think we made their prom night even better.”