After a tough 11-2 loss to Lyons Township on March 8, the OPRF boys' water polo team is hopeful of their chances this year with a young and developing team.
"We haven't' gotten a lot of work in as a team this season," said head coach Jim Lock. "A lot of our guys just finished swimming, so we've only had six practices."
That lack of time in the pool was evident against Lyons, as the Huskies were outplayed badly.
"Our offense just didn't work in our pool," said goalie Scott Dunlavey. "It is meant for a wider pool. Some of our younger players couldn't really pass much, so we couldn't get the ball to Kevin Williams."
Williams and Dunlavey are expected to lead the Huskies this year, as they are two of the few returning players to the very young OPRF squad. Williams is one of the best players in the area. Last year as a junior he was named an All-American and first team All-State. "He is a definite candidate for player of the year," said Lock.
Williams and Dunlavey are both possibilities for first team All-State consideration.
The Huskies first want to improve upon last year's 14-17 record. "We'd like to get above .500," said Lock.
To do this, the Huskies want to get Williams more involved and generate more offense than they did against Lyons.
However, the Huskies will need more than just Williams and Dunlavey to succeed this year.
"Once we get some more experience," said Dunlavey, "we will improve our ball movement and get better."
Dunlavey said that many of the younger players simply need time to get comfortable playing together, and that with time they should be able to work together more and help utilize Williams more.
The Huskies are counting on these things to happen, as they hope to avenge a sudden-death overtime loss to St. Patrick in sectionals last year, which wrecked their chances of advancing to State.
"We want to try to get to State by getting past St. Patrick and Fenwick," said Lock.
St. Patrick and Fenwick are two of the tougher teams that OPRF will face this year, along with Lyons.
One of last year's highlights for the Huskies was a win in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference tournament, something that they would like to repeat. However, as with almost everything else, Lock stressed that there is much work needed in order to reach that goal.
"It's going to be a struggle to get to where we need to be," said Lock. "Lyons has become a very good team, but we want to beat Lyons in the West Suburban Conference and beat St. Patrick and Fenwick at sectionals and get to State."