After losing the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference championship match last spring, the Fenwick High School boys water polo team was determined to regain its longstanding perch atop the league.
The Friars accomplished this task, but had to earn it as they prevailed over St. Rita 12-11 in overtime on May 7 before a vociferous crowd at the Dan O’Brien Aquatics Center on campus.
“It was so much fun,” said Fenwick coach Kyle Perry of having fans back after there were none last year due to the pandemic. “It was so loud here that you couldn’t hear anything. I love this pool. There’s no better place to have a tournament.”
Fenwick senior Cameron Sarvis, who scored what proved to be the decisive goal in overtime, also thought the fans gave the team a boost.
“They played a big part in this win,” he said. “Their energy really carried us.”
The Friars (20-9) trailed St. Rita 5-4 at halftime and 10-8 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. But sophomore Finn Vahey (three goals, three assists) and junior Alec Posluszny each scored to tie the match and force overtime.
“Even when we went down, we knew we had the ability to come back,” Sarvis said. “I had full faith in my team to play with heart and win.”
Overtime in water polo consists of two three-minute halves. After Posluszny — who finished with six goals — and the Mustangs’ John Masiliunas exchanged tallies in the first half, Sarvis’ goal in the second held up as the winner, thanks to a strong defensive effort led by goalie Sam Kulisek (eight saves).
“Cameron stepped up huge, as did a lot of guys,” said Perry, who saw one of his leading scorers, junior Chris Badja, get ejected in the third quarter due to three exclusions. “If we get a multitude of guys in the pool doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’re going to be in a great spot.
Earlier in the day, Fenwick defeated Loyola Academy 13-7 in a semifinal. Posluszny had four goals and Badja (four assists) and Vahey three goals apiece.
The Friars are seeded second at the ISHA York Sectional and will face either Morton or Taft in a quarterfinal on May 11. Should Fenwick win, there’s a good chance crosstown rival and third-seeded Oak Park and River Forest would be awaiting in the semifinal May 13, with the winner likely meeting the host and top seed Dukes for the title May 14.
“It’s going to take a lot of work,” said Perry. “Our Wednesday match is really our main focus, and once we get through that, we’ll start worrying about the rest of the schedule. But we’re looking forward to playing our best water polo of the season and see what we can do in the sectional.”
McCarthy scores 5 to pace Fenwick girls
After a rare subpar season in 2021, the Fenwick girls water polo team is back on top of the MCAC. The Friars scored the first five goals against visiting Mother McAuley on May 7 in the conference title game en route to an 11-5 victory.
“We had talked in the beginning about playing our game and setting the tone, and they did just that,” Timmons said of the fast start.
Junior Annie McCarthy tallied five goals for Fenwick (20-6-1) against Mother McAuley. Afterwards, senior Linden Gierstorf, who scored twice against the Mighty Macs, credited her play as one of the reasons for the team’s success this year.
“Annie’s our leading scorer and glues the whole team together,” she said. “We know we can rely on her to score if we’re able to get the ball to her.”
Senior Demi Ovalle (2 goals, 3 assists against McAuley) believes Fenwick’s chemistry has also been a major factor.
“We’re a team with good players and a lot of communication with each other,” she said. “We know where we are in the water.”
Earlier in the day, the Friars routed Loyola Academy in a semifinal 14-4. McCarthy had five goals, while Gierstorf and Xiomara Trejo (5 steals) each added three goals. Other contributors were Ovalle (2 goals, 4 assists), Pam Medina (4 assists), Hannah Schubkegel (5 steals) and goalie Nahla Basile (10 saves) – who also scored a goal.
Fenwick is seeded second at the IHSA York Sectional and will face Chicago Northside Prep in a quarterfinal on May 12 at 7:30 p.m.
If Fenwick wins, crosstown rival Oak Park and River Forest is the probable opponent in the semifinal May 13, with the survivor likely drawing the host and top seed York for the title May 14.
“We have to play our game and not let anyone get into our heads,” Timmons said.