The Fenwick boys water polo team has won four consecutive state championships with serious designs on claiming a fifth title this spring. Possessing a résumé of that successful caliber, it’s safe to assume that the battle-tested Friars know a thing or two about taking tests.

In fact, several of the Friars took two “tests” on Saturday, with the first one of an academic variety, leaving Fenwick temporarily undermanned against cross-town rival OPRF in a match-up at the Lyons Township Invitational.

“It was rough match because all of our juniors were taking the ACTs,” said Fenwick All-state player Chris Wendt (75 goals last season), whose team still came away with a 10-5 victory. “A lot of us showed up late.”

Renewing their cross-town rivalry with OPRF in Willow Springs, Doug Fischer scored an early goal to give the Huskies a short-lived 1-0 lead over Fenwick with 2:40 left in the first quarter.

The Friars’ Will Schulenberg and Mike Berkemeyer quickly responded with a goal each, providing Fenwick a 2-1 advantage at the end of the period.

Better late than never, a full-strength Fenwick squad scored seven of the next eight goals to take a commanding 9-2 lead with 2:41 left in regulation. Andrew McKernin and Wendt fueled the strong scoring run with three goals apiece.

“It wasn’t one of our better performances,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Perry. “We never really got in sync, but we still played good enough to win. Except for this match [OPRF], I think we have been playing very well all season.”

OPRF (7-8) posted three scores in the final 1:25 of play to make the final tally 10-5. Fischer netted his second goal, while Tommy Poulos and Chris Lingner added a goal each for the Huskies.

Along with their 10 goals, the Friars fired 19 shots on the OPRF goal. Fenwick goalie Matt Napleton had four steals.

“Sometimes we lose intensity in these games,” McKernin said. “Toward the end of the season, it will be one and done. We can’t afford to let up at all.”

In the title match, Fenwick (17-1) defeated LT in a hard-fought 15-9 match.

Trailing 5-2, the host Lions scored a pair of goals to cut their deficit to 5-4; however, Craig Borkovec, Brian Barron, McKernin and Wendt all scored key goals in the third period en route to a 15-9 championship victory. Other than Borkovec, all the aforementioned players scored four goals against LT, while Napleton had seven saves.

In their opening match at LT, the Friars rolled to a 13-2 victory over York. Wendt and McKernin tallied hat tricks, while Schulenberg (2 goals), Barron (5 steals) and Napleton (10 steals) also contributed to the win over the Dukes.

On the year, the Friars have won the Dan Lynch Classic in their home pool, four of five games against excellent teams from Florida, and the Weber-Allen Classic title (at LT).

“The trip to Florida was really good for us,” said Perry about the Friars’ visit to Miami. “We trained a little bit more and we played four high-quality opponents in that tournament.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...