By Brad Spencer
It's not difficult for the Fenwick boys water polo team to forget last season and the loss by one point to Lyons Township that ended the program's eight-straight state title reign, but there aren't many players back this season from that squad.
Head coach Kyle Perry has just three starters returning from last season's 31-2 team, but that shouldn't be looked at as a negative. Not when the three are Matt Farmer, Matt Bresnahan and Tommy McGuire. Farmer is coming off a stint with the USA Youth National team that trained in Singapore in December. He also played in the FINA Youth World Championships in Perth, Australia. The four-year starter will play at UCLA next year, joining Fenwick alum Chris Wendt (2009).
Bresnahan brings his high-powered southpaw shot and his speed back to the pool. The Bucknell-bound senior was the swim team's second fastest 200 freestyler and its main 500 free competitor. Farmer and Bresnahan combined to score approximately 150 goals last season, while McGuire averaged five goals against as goalkeeper. But the Friars are going to need more than these three to replace the likes of Dan Kelly, Rich Mueller, Vikan Huening, and Mike Hanfland. Kelly now swims at Boston College, while Mueller does the same for Loyola Maryland.
Seniors that are expected to fill the gaps include Trevor McLean, Michael Mahoney, Derek Guillen, Justin White, Jimmy Mullen, and Tony Perez. Juniors Omar Calderon, Billy Golden, David Durkin, Zach Tieke and Connor Fabian are expected to see extensive playing time as well.
Perry said he's already seen the dedication in this group of players, and that he doesn't foresee his team easing up from last year.
"This team has shown up ready to work from day one. I anticipate another great season," he said. "I have 14 seniors on this team that would like to end their high school careers with a Catholic League championship and, if all goes well, a state championship. For us, there's no pressure this year. We're just happy to be back playing water polo."
Brother Rice, De La Salle, St. Rita and St. Patrick look to vie for the Catholic League title with Fenwick, although Loyola remains a mystery. The Ramblers graduated much of their starting lineup last season, players that had been on varsity for three and four years.
"Our conference is once again the top conference for water polo this year, so we look forward to the challenging schedule that is ahead of us," said Perry.
Girls water polo
A three-peat may be in the cards for the Fenwick girls water polo team as 11 players return — five starters — from the team that upended Naperville Central 10-7 in the state championship last year. It was the second consecutive state title for the Friars, and their seventh since the IHSA sanctioned the sport in 2001.
Cara Borkevec, Colleen Barron, Alexa Ovalle, Maggie Sheean and Paige Kohut all return to try to bring home the hardware yet again.
Others expected to make a significant impact include Colleen Gartland, Haley Wickham, Erin McDonald, Jennette Angilini, Olivia Wendt, Bridget Carey, Addie Curry and goalie Alexis Buglio.
Mother McAuley, St. Ignatius and Loyola are likely to remain Fenwick's steepest competition in both the conference and at state.
The Friars take on Loyola in their season and home opener on Monday (6:30 p.m.).