Fenwick may be without four key players from last year's Class AA Boys Water Polo State championship team, but that doesn't mean the Friars aren't poised to defend the crown this season.
Not when the team returns the bulk of its scoring production in Oscar Calderon, Mark Melnyk, Luke Baldwin and Tom Parolin. Sure last year's stars?#34;Chris Parolin, Paul Klotz, Kevin Kysiak, and Dan Evon?#34;are now churning up the water at the collegiate level, but last season Fenwick was so deep with talent and skill the Friars just might have been able to field a second State title team. Melnyk scored 77 goals last season, while Calderon pitched in 29, Baldwin 50, and Tom Parolin 23. Both Melnyk and Baldwin scored two goals apiece in the 2004 State title game.
But don't put too much emphasis on any one player doing all the scoring this season.
"We've got another situation where the starting six all have the ability to score," said head coach Dave Perry. "They all have the skill and strength to score from outside and that's a plus. We also have guys that drive; we can be a fast counter-attack team."
Strength, speed, and scoring ability don't always make for a stellar team looking to match or even surpass last season's 35-1 record. It takes depth, and Fenwick has that too.
Fenwick's bench goes six deep with proven players. Pat Lloyd, Dan Wolak, Jordan Zmijawski, Matt Meyer, Jack Ryden, and Paul Grusecki, who scored 30 goals in 21 games last season, all have the experience and skill to step in and get the job done.
"In my opinion this is another State title caliber team," said Perry. "The people who graduated are being replaced by capable players."
Chris Jones who started on varsity as a freshman, and then filled in as a backup to Evon last season, is back to reprise his role as Fenwick's main goalkeeper. Jones saved 154 shots on goal in 16 games last season for the Friars.
The Friars, who also won the Metro Catholic Aquatics Conference last year, are going up against the same usual suspects this season in St. Patrick, Brother Rice, and Stevenson, whom they defeated 11-9 to win last season's State title.
"It's going to be more of the same this season," said Perry referring to the competition. "Everyone has lost key players, and everyone has key players returning. It's going to make it interesting, that's for sure."
The Friars host the Dan Lynch Classic this weekend beginning on Friday. They take on Brother Rice, the only team to hand Fenwick a loss last season, on Monday (5 p.m.).