Fenwick head boys water polo coach Dave Perry has already used the motto a few times at practice this season. “It’s the drive for five,” hollers the coach, referring to his team’s goal of obtaining the school’s fifth consecutive state boys water polo championship title.
But with four key starters lost to graduation from last season’s 34-2 team, the motto could quickly turn into: The drive to stay alive.
Chris Wendt, Andrew McKernin, Matt Napleton and the Barron brothers-Brian and Dan-are back to make sure the negative motto never gets muttered. Wendt, a junior, was Fenwick’s third best scorer last year, netting 75 goals during the regular season. He was second on the team in assists with 49. McKernin, now the team’s only senior who started last season, racked up 47 goals in 30 games for the Friars. Napleton saw extensive action in goal as a sophomore last season, finishing with 113 saves in 28 games. Fenwick gets added experience with Brian Barron, who scored 49 goals last season. Dan Barron brings a much-needed lefty to the mix for Fenwick’s high-powered offense.
“Although we have a lot of players, we are certainly not as deep and not as fast as we were last season,” said Perry. “But we will incorporate the same strategy we did last season, and that’s using speed and tough defense.”
Others expected to contribute significantly this season include seniors Will Schulenberg, Mike Berkemeyer, George Groen and juniors Craig Borkovec and Colin Corvino. Sophomore Will Rigali also brings some speed to the team.
Fenwick will have its hands full trying to defend its Metro Catholic Aquatics Conference title-also for the fifth year in a row. Brother Rice, St. Patrick, Loyola and St. Rita could figure into the top four.
“Offensively, we will do more swimming this year,” said Perry. “It’s that sort of team, made up mostly of very good swimmers. “We won’t be as fast overall but there aren’t too many teams that will ever be as fast as we were last year.”
The Friars travel to Loyola Monday before hosting the Dan Lynch Classic from March 13 through March 15. On March 28, the team takes an extended road-trip to Miami, Fla., to take on Gulliver Prep.