Earlier in the season six-time boys water polo state champ Fenwick lost to cross-town rival OPRF for the first time in several years. On Saturday, again in their own pool, the Friars held off the speedy Huskies long enough to get revenge, coming away with an 11-10 victory over the top-ranked team in the state.
“It wasn’t until Will Rigali made a steal with 10 seconds left that I knew we had the win,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Perry, whose Friars jumped on a 5-1 run to close out the first half up 7-4. “Our defense was great and that led to our offense being more efficient as well.”
Spurred by Rigali, Matt Farmer, Dominic Gallo and John Osborne, Fenwick held a 10-6 advantage after three periods. Rigali and the freshman Farmer led the Friars with three goals apiece, while Gallo and Osborne each scored twice.
But it was the stubborn tenacity of Fenwick goalkeeper Dan Francisco that kept the Huskies from securing another victory over their rival. Francisco finished the game with nine saves.
OPRF’s Troy Williams scored twice in the first half and cut the deficit to 10-8 with a goal in the final period.
“Our defense was very poor for about three full quarters of the game,” said OPRF head coach Tom Nickels. “Fenwick came out more physical and simply wanted the win more then our guys.”
The Friars upped their overall record to 17-2 on the season by finishing the weekend tournament with three straight victories. Fenwick also defeated seventh-ranked Mundelein, 10-5, and second ranked Naperville Central, 12-6.
After a slow start against Mundelein, the Friars took a 10-4 lead after three periods.
“I think we were feeling the effects of the Oak Park win,” said Perry. “It took a while to get back into this game but once we picked up our defense again we got back on track.
Farmer led the charge with three goals, while Rigali and Osborne had two apiece. Francisco finished with 13 saves.
Osborne scored six goals to lead the Friars past Naperville Central in a game where all the players in the pool seemed to be battling exhaustion. Farmer added three goals in the win, while Dan Kelly, Ted Herbstritt and Connor Brown each scored one apiece.
The Friars host Waubonsie Valley tonight (Wednesday, April 28) for Senior Night. They travel to Stevenson for an invitational on Saturday.
OPRF regrouped after the loss to the Friars, snagging a 10-7 victory over Mundelein and a 13-5 win over Naperville Central. The Huskies, who are now 15-2 on the season, also travel to Stevenson on Saturday.
“I am not sure that losing helps a team get better,” said Nickels. “I hope our team starts realizing they need to physically and mentally prepare for games in order to give themselves the best chance to win. Fenwick is a quality program and they definitely proved that they are, once again, the best program in the state. We have our hands full in sectionals. Hopefully, our team can improve some by then.”