Boys water Polo: Stevenson knocks out Brother Rice in state quarterfinal
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media May 22, 2014 9:10PM
Lincolnshire, 05/22/14--Stevenson's Liam Holzer defends Brother Rice's Luke Healy as he looks to pass. Stevenson played Brother Rice in a boys water polo state quarterfinal game Thursday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
(all games at Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire)
Naperville North 17, Sandburg 4
Fenwick 15, St. Ignatius 7
Stevenson 12, Brother Rice 7
Loyola 15, Palatine 9
Naperville North (33-1) vs. Fenwick (30-4), 9 a.m.
Stevenson (27-7) vs. Loyola (29-5), 10:15 a.m.
Third-place game, 3:30 p.m.
Championship, 6:30 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2014 8:05AM
Brother Rice is unaccustomed to the underdog role, but the Crusaders embraced it this postseason.
As the No. 4 seed in the Stagg Sectional, they became the only non-top seed to advance to state.
It took a determined Stevenson squad — motivated by last season’s loss in the state championship game and playing in its home pool —to finally oust the Crusaders in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
The Patriots killed Brother Rice in transition early on their way to a 9-1 lead and a strong second-half performance from the Crusaders wasn’t enough in a 12-7 loss in Lincolnshire.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to” Rice’s Matt Bachler said. “We wanted to come out the same way we did against Curie (in the sectional semifinal) and Stagg (in the sectional final), but it didn’t happen. I’m very happy with the way we came back in the second half, though.”
Bachler and James Ryan led the Crusaders (11-18) with two goals each.
Alex Divanyan and Mitchell Sokolsky had three each for Stevenson (27-7).
The Patriots beat the Brother Rice defense on fast breaks time and again as they turned a 3-0 game after the first quarter into a runaway by halftime.
Stevenson scored six times in the final 3:35 of the first half to go up 9-1.
“We were kind of like a caged animal,” Stevenson coach Sean Wimer said. “All season long we’ve gotten off to slow starts, but the kids were still fired up after the loss last year and they were motivated.”
The Crusaders outscored Stevenson 6-3 in the second half.
“We had some first-game jitters,” Brother Rice coach Tony Cichowicz said. “We have a young squad, and it’s just one of those things. At halftime I told them just to leave the first half behind them and play our game.
“In the first half, we were putting shots off the crossbar, we were missing the net altogether. It was pretty ugly. We started to put some shots in the net in the second half.”
Ryan’s two goals led a four-goal fourth for the Crusaders.
“We have a young team,” said Bachler, a junior. “We only have three seniors. I think we’re going to be set next year, and hopefully, get back here.”
Brennan Russell, Dan Whalen and Andrew Szczepaniak each scored once for Rice and Kevin Kenny made 12 saves.
“The guys worked hard all season and they put it together at the end,” Cichowicz said. “It was mostly an upside-down season until the end. It was like ‘Where did you guys come from?’ We made people take notice.”