Fenwick High School senior Chris Badja calls his water polo teammate Jack Posluszny one of the state’s top freshmen.
“He’s awesome,” said Badja, a co-captain. “He has the confidence to shoot the ball, and he’s also great on the defensive end.”
Posluszny made Badja’s words ring true during the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference title match at Fenwick on May 6. He scored the match’s first three goals to set the tone in the Friars’ 13-9 victory over St. Ignatius.
“It was very important because we were playing a very good team that we lost to earlier this season,” said Posluszny of the fast start.
It’s rare for a freshman to be a major contributor on the varsity level in water polo. Yet, Posluszny has had a good debut, and he gives credit to his teammates, especially his older brother Alec, a senior who is out with an injury.
“He’s helped me a lot,” Jack said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to play together much, but we’ve been doing everything together and it’s been so much fun.”
Posluszny scored his three goals in a span of 2:02 midway through the first quarter. Then Finn Vahey and Badja scored eight seconds apart in the minute to give Fenwick (21-9) a commanding 5-0 lead after the quarter.
“We’ve talked all season about starting strong, and that first quarter settled everybody,” said Fenwick coach Kyle Perry. “From there, we just tried to keep rolling.”
The Friars led 6-3 at halftime, then looked poised to pull away when they scored the first three goals of the third quarter. But Ignatius, the MCAC regular season champion and tournament’s top seed, tallied three goals of its own to cut Fenwick’s lead to 9-6 after three quarters.
Dean Maroida’s goal with 5:03 left in regulation drew the Wolfpack to within two. But Posluszny scroed his fourth goal of the match 13 seconds later, and Vahey got his fourth goal 14 seconds after Posluszny to give the Friars needed breathing room.
“Anytime Ignatius made a little run, we were able to respond back with a little run of our own,” Perry said. “We’d like to see what we can do defensively to stop those runs, but we felt confident on the offensive end.”
Senior goalkeeper Sam Kulisek was another key to Fenwick’s victory. He posted 15 saves, including several big stops when Ignatius was making its push.
“Sam had his best game today,” Perry said. “That sets a great tone for us next week as we head into the playoffs.”
Fenwick is seeded second at this week’s IHSA York Sectional behind the host Dukes, who prevailed in last year’s sectional final meeting.
The Friars meet Prosser in a quarterfinal May 11 in Elmhurst. If the Friars win, either third seed Oak Park and River Forest or sixth seed Taft would be the semifinal opponent May 12.
Fenwick girls fall in GCAC finals
Annie McCarthy’s game-tying goal with 4:08 left seemed to give second seed Fenwick the momentum against top seed Mother McAuley in the MCAC girls water polo title match May 6.
But 49 seconds later, the Mighty Macs were awarded a 5-meter penalty shot, and Ella Mulchrone made no mistake, beating Fenwick goalkeeper Emilia Novak. Mother McAuley scored again 50 seconds later to hand the Friars a 10-8 defeat.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted,” said Fenwick coach Elizabeth Timmons. “However, compared to where we’ve been, this is where we need to be right now. We’re excited and looking forward to build on this next week [at sectionals].”
Fenwick (13-15) trailed 7-3 a minute into the third quarter, but the Friars used good defense to go on a 5-1 run over the next nine minutes to even things.
“That’s one of the best things about this group: they will not stop,” Timmons said. “Even when it seems not well, they’re not going to stop fighting and trying to get back into it.”
Timmons also cited Novak’s play in goal as a reason for the Fenwick rally.
“Emilia’s been doing a real nice job for us,” she said. “We’re working to play to our strengths, both in the goal as well as offensively and defensively. We want to make sure we’re dictating and not having other teams do what they want us to do.”
Fenwick is the second seed in the York Sectional, opening play May 9, after Wednesday Journal’s print deadline, against Northside Prep. Assuming a win, Fenwick would face either third seed OPRF or sixth seed Morton in the semifinals May 12.