Boys Water Polo: Area teams could make noise in postseaon
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2013 6:34PM
Naperville North's Eric Curia (10) scored 162 goals for the Huskies, who lost in the state quarterfinals to state champ Lyons. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2013 4:13PM
Coach: Tom Musch
Last year: 15-14, lost to Hinsdale Central in sectional
Top players: Seniors Alex Vass, Alex Gidlow; juniors Christian Moresco (goalie), Alex Walter
Outlook: Metea took the ironman approach last year, playing virtually the entire season without substitutes, and it had its advantages. The Mustangs finished above .500. “None of our players were pigeonholed,” said Musch. “Everyone was versatile and we were confident and strong at the end of games.” This year, the coach has a greater number of players to call on, but several of those “ironmen” have graduated and they’ll be tough to replace. The four returnees will still have to play the whole game. There are about eight candidates to fill the other spots. Goalie Moresco could be a difference-maker. “Our guys played as a team last year,” Musch said. “We won more games than you’d expect. It will be a challenge to match last year.”
Coach: Bill Salentine
Last year: 22-10, lost to Naperville North in sectional final
Top players: Seniors Matt Prestinario (goalie), Kyle Stablein (hole defender), Luke Ryan (defender), Eric Lullo (defender); juniors Adam Hunter (utility), Joe Bigenwald (center), Connor Lamb (attacker).
Outlook: Last year’s offense depended on two top scorers up front, and with those two graduated, Salentine has to determine where the goals are going to come from this season. With no dominating scorer, the Redhawks are sure to have a more balanced attack. This team has great size and strength, which translates into a strong defense. Prestinario, who has a large wingspan, is one of the best goalies in the state. Stablein is one of the top defenders and Hunter, who can fly, is a leader in steals and assists. Salentine is looking for all-state swimmer Lamb and Bigenwald to take up some of the scoring slack. Ryan and Lullo are two other defensive standouts. “Our game will be to play a tight, harassing defense on the perimeter, and not let the opponent gets their shots off,” said Salentine. “And on offense, we have to take advantage of our chances when they come.”
Coach: John Blumthal
Last year: 30-4, lost to eventual state champion Lyons in state quarterfinals
Top players: Seniors Eric Curia (defender), Michael Shabel (goalie), Adam Nyland (two meter defender); juniors Nolan Roberts (two meter defender), Gianmarco Duin (driver), Luke Landiak (two meter defender), Garrett Nash (driver), Andrew Rocco (driver).
Outlook: The consensus is that the Huskies are the team to beat in this area. Most of the team that was narrowly beaten by eventual state champion Lyons is returning. Curia, an all-state swimmer, is a superstar who broke the school record with 162 goals. He’ll be playing water polo for Air Force next year. The Huskies fast-breaking counter attack begins with Shabel, a superb stopper and distributor. Roberts had more than 100 steals, while Duin broke the school’s single-season assist record. Nyland and Landiak are veterans who know the game, and star swimmers Nash and Rocco bring the speed. “We have experienced, seasoned veterans who have another year playing together,” said Blumthal. “We move well as a unit and play as physically tough as anyone in the state. We’re a contender to win state or come darn close.”
Coach: Adam Hoffer
Last year: 15-14-1, lost to Naperville North in sectional semifinals
Top players: Seniors Will Russell (utility), Brian DePuy (defender), Alex Thoele (center defender), John Dusenberry (defender); juniors John Hedderman (goalie), Drew Dvorchak (attacker); sophomores Simon Shatinsky (utility), Joe Widuch (attacker).
Outlook: The Wildcats could be a surprise contender come sectional time. Hoffer has a nice mix of battle-tested veterans and promising young talent. “With a year of experience, most players know the game much better,” said Hoffer. Many of the Wildcats bulked up with vigorous strength-training in the offseason. “I think we’ll get strong leadership from our seniors,” said Hoffer. “Teams may not be expecting us to be this big or this good. We may be able to win some close games.” Russell has been a team leader since his freshman year, Depuy is a savvy and speedy defender who sparks the Wildcats’ counter-attack, and Thoele is a long-armed defender who is a presence in the middle of the pool. Shatinsky is an asset on both sides of the ball and Hedderman can be a brick wall in goal.
Coach: Matt Niemeier
Last year: 17-13; lost to Naperville Central in first round of sectional
Top players: Seniors Michael McWhirter (utility) Stephen Ernst (utility); juniors Nathan Morris (utility), Jared Schreier; sophomores Braden Krug, Cameron Steele.
Outlook: Speed and versatility are the names of the game at Waubonsie Valley. The team features a host of top swimmers who can play multiple roles. Last year, the Warriors suffered some from youth and inexperience, but almost everyone returns a year better and a year smarter. “Our kids are improved from last year,” said Niemeier. “But last year we surprised some people. This year everyone has us in their sights.” McWhirter, a three-year starter, has outstanding speed and scores a lot of goals, mostly on counter-attack chances. Ernst is an all-around talent who can even play goalie and, Morris, who added some muscle, is a coming star wherever the coach chooses to put him. Krug provides a left-handed offensive presence to add variety to the Warriors attack. “We’re hoping for a 23-plus in season,” said Niemeier. “We think we have a good chance to make it to the sectional championship game.”