It’s probably a good thing these two teams play their sport in water, because the rivalry between the OPRF and Fenwick boys water polo teams went from heated to scorching on Saturday at the Stevenson Tournament.

The two teams, which each had a win against one another this season going into the tournament, ended up facing off again in the championship game. The result was a 7-7 tie after four quarters and a subsequent sudden death shootout where the Friars emerged the victors 5-4.

Connor Brown put the Friars (23-2) up 5-2 late in the second period with a shot from seven meters out, but OPRF refused to go away in the second half. With one second left in the third quarter, Dylan O’Connell cut the deficit to 6-5.

Armando Lee knotted the score at 6-6 with a goal in the fourth, and O’Connell scored again to give OPRF (19-3) their first lead. Fenwick’s Will Rigali evened things back up on a penalty shot with 3:07 to play.

“It’s really both an exciting win and a frustrating win for us,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Perry. “Anytime you let slip a good lead it’s not ideal, but we managed to hang in there and stay focused.

“I favor more the overtime format, but a shootout is quite thrilling, especially between rivals,” he added.

OPRF goalie David Anderson blocked Rigali’s first attempt in the shootout, but Don Francisco did the same in Fenwick’s goal against Troy Williams. After both teams traded goals twice, Rigali scored with a toss into the right corner. Francisco then blocked Williams’ attempt for the victory.

“It was a nice change of pace,” said Perry of the shootout format. “But we won’t see that in the playoffs unless things are still tied after two overtime periods.”

John Osborne led the Friars with three goals. Lee finished with a game-high four goals, while O’Connell had three for the Huskies.

Fenwick begins the Metro Catholic Aquatics Conference Tournament against St. Rita on Thursday. The Friars are likely to face No. 1 seed Brother Rice (22-2) in the title game on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) at Fenwick.

OPRF travels to York this weekend for the West Suburban (Silver) Conference Tournament.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...