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Boys Water Polo: Stagg ready for breakthrough season

Stagg's Filip Patrak (from left) Peter Krivanec Connor Kauffman. | Steve Millar/For Sun-Times Media

Stagg's Filip Patrak (from left), Peter Krivanec and Connor Kauffman. | Steve Millar/For Sun-Times Media

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Boys
Water Polo 2014

Top Southland Teams

1. Stagg: With the Amendola twins leading the way and Peter Krivanec back in net, this could be the Chargers’ year to make it to state for the first time.

2. Brother Rice: A state quarterfinalist in 2013, Brother Rice has a lot of production to replace. Dan Birmingham came on strong late last year and should be a major weapon for new coach Tony Cichowicz.

3. Homewood-Flossmoor: All-State goalie Jakobi McClellan will make the Vikings tough to score on. They need to find scoring with 2013 SouthtownStar Player of the Year Kevin Kuchta gone to graduation.

4. Sandburg: It could be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Eagles, but expect them to be a threat by the end of the season behind seniors Zach Roper and Sean McNicholas and a talented group of young players.

5. Lockport: A sectional finalist last season and a state semifinalist two years ago, Lockport will try to reload behind a pair of returning starters in Jacob Speechley and Matt Olinski.

Top Southland Individuals
(in alphabetical order)

Nick Amendola, Jr. hole, Stagg; Zack Amendola, Jr. driver, Stagg; Matt Bachler, Jr. driver, Brother Rice; Dan Birmingham, Sr. hole, Brother Rice; Declan Flaherty, Sr. driver, Lincoln-Way East; Kyle Forsythe, Sr. utility, Lincoln-Way Central; Chuck Henrichs, Sr. driver, St. Rita; Jakobi McClellan, Sr. goalie, Homewood-Flossmoor; Matt Olinski, Sr. driver, Lockport; Zach Roper, Sr. driver, Sandburg; Haden Santefort, Jr. utility, Homewood-Flossmoor; Shamus Shields, Sr. goalie, Lincoln-Way North; Jacob Speechley, Sr. driver, Lockport; Eric Tamulonis, Sr. hole, Andrew; Mitch Zieler, Jr. hole, Sandburg.

Updated: April 11, 2014 6:18AM



The last couple of years, Stagg has been knocking on the door in search of its first trip to the state championships.

In 2012, the Chargers upset Brother Rice in the sectional semifinals before dropping an 11-10 heartbreaker to rival Sandburg in the final.

Last year, a young Stagg squad gave Brother Rice all it could handle before falling 9-6 in a sectional semifinal.

Those memories make for motivation.

“That loss last year to Brother Rice replays in my head over and over,” senior Connor Kauffmann said. “I think about it every day. It definitely fires me up to play better this year.”

This could be the year the Chargers knock the door down. Stagg finished just 15-15 last season, but should dramatically improve on that with six returning starters.

Seniors Kauffmann, Filip Patrak and Harlan Long will look to step up to complement a supremely talented junior class highlighted by twins Zack (72 goals, 59 assists last season) and Nick (55 goals, 44 assists) Amendola and goalie Peter Krivanec.

“I know that we can make state if everything falls into place,” Stagg coach Wes Gonzalez said. “I told the kids I think we’re one of the top eight teams in the state. It’s just a matter of us doing what we need to do every day to get better.”

The Chargers thrive on chemistry, which flows through the entire team, beginning with the special connection between the Amendola twins.

Nick plays hole set and is ambidextrous, making him tough to defend in the post. Zack plays driver and is a threat to fire from anywhere in the pool.

“We’re a double threat,” Zack Amendola said. “If teams try to stop him, I can step up and vice versa. It’s so much more than just us two, too. We know everyone on our team can step up if you try to double team one of us.”

“We like being known as the Amendola twins,” Nick said. “The whole team has great chemistry and is connected, with me and Zack in the center.”

Stagg is coming off a strong swimming season, winning the Sandburg Sectional.

“Having so many fast swimmers should help us out a lot this year,” Patrak said. “We can get a lot of fast-break goals.”

The Chargers are hoping to find the right formula to make school history.

“This year, we’re prepared and ready to win,” Krivanec said. “We want to win sectionals and get to state and we think we can do it.”



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