Although the Fenwick High School boys and girls water polo teams each won their final game of the season, they fell just short of winning a state championship. That’s a rare season-ending circumstance for either program, considering the Friars own 29 state titles overall (20 boys/9 girls).
In Saturday’s semifinals of the state playoffs in Lincolnshire, host Stevenson swept Fenwick 8-7 (boys game) and 18-4 (girls game).
In the boys matchup, the Friars trailed 5-0 at the 5:56 mark of the second quarter. With 3:23 left until halftime, senior Danny Farmer finally scored to get Fenwick on the scoreboard at 5-1. Down 7-4 entering the fourth quarter, the Friars’ Ryan Masi scored two goals and Farmer added another, but Ryan Sashin’s timely goal enabled the Patriots to hold off Fenwick 8-7.
“We beat Stevenson three times [during the regular season] but they are very good,” Fenwick coach Kyle Perry said. “Unfortunately, we struggled a bit early and found ourselves down 4-0 after the first quarter. That’s not a normal spot for us. We won out over the next three quarters but just ran out of time.”
In the state final, Lyons Township defeated Stevenson 9-6 to win its second state championship. In the third-place game, Masi scored six goals and Farmer had four goals in the Friars’ 17-13 win over St. Ignatius. Fenwick finished 34-2 overall, with its two losses by a combined three goals.
“Overall, it was a good tournament for us even though we didn’t get the end result we were looking for,” Perry said. “I’m glad we won the last game [against St. Ignatius] because we wanted to send our seniors off the way they deserve, which is a great final game. They have all worked hard and had great careers at Fenwick.”
On the girls side, Stevenson topped Fenwick 18-4 in the semifinals en route to winning the state title 11-3 against New Trier. The Friars played the Patriots tough in the first quarter, trailing only 5-3; however, Stevenson went on a 12-1 run over the next two quarters to put the game out of reach.
Like the boys team, Fenwick rebounded well from its semifinal loss to notch an impressive 10-8 victory against Lyons Township. Catie Wallace led the Friars with a game-high five goals and Kelly Frumkin finished with four goals.
“I’ve coached in nine championship games and coaching this third-place game was the hardest one I’ve ever had to coach,” Fenwick coach Jack Wagner said. “I wanted the girls to have an opportunity to finish off what should be celebrated as a fantastic season. We were tied with Lions entering the fourth and our stars Catie and Kelly took over.”
Considering the Friars (23-7-1) lost eight of nine key players to graduation last season, Wagner was pleased and frankly surprised by the team’s success this spring.
“At the beginning of the year, if you told me we would make the state tournament, I would have probably been a pretty happy guy,” he said. “We beat Naperville Central [11-7] in the quarterfinals, which I thought was fantastic. Obviously with the history of our program, when you win that first game it tends to get the blood pumping. We advanced to the semifinals with an opportunity to play for the state championship, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us this year. On the whole, I think it was a very good season. Plus, we graduate one senior so we will be back.”