Loyola advances to boys water polo state final

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LINCOLNSHIRE — The Loyola boys water polo team’s defense and plethora of scoring options have been two of the Ramblers’ biggest strengths all season, and they propelled them into Saturday evening’s state final.

Loyola had five players score two goals or more in a 13-6 victory over Stevenson in Saturday morning’s state semifinal. The Ramblers (30-5) were led in scoring by seniors Tom Baker and Cameron Shewchuck, who scored three goals apiece. Seniors George Finn, Matt Kearney and Jack Nickele added two goals each.

“There’s no one person that’s a pure-bred scorer [on our team], so [opponents] have to look out for everybody on the team,” Baker said. “They can’t shut down one guy. If they do, then more people open up for shots.”

The high-powered Patriots (27-8) featured three top-flight scorers all year in sophomore Alex Kapecki, senior Mitchell Sokolsky and freshman Andrew Shashin. Kapecki got into foul trouble in the first half, however, which helped Loyola’s stout defense limit the trio. Sokolsky finished the game with four goals, but the Ramblers were able to shut out Kapecki and Shashin.

In tonight’s state final — it’s scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Stevenson — Loyola’s defense will likely have to play as well as it did against Stevenson to beat Fenwick. The Friars, who Loyola defeated twice this season, knocked off Naperville North 11-8 in the day’s first state semifinal. The 10-time champion Friars have never lost a state final.

“It’s going to take a lot more of the same [to beat Fenwick],” Loyola coach Dan Hengelmann said. “We can’t be that sloppy in the first half. We’ve got to stick to our offense. We’ve seen them three times already … so we’re familiar. But man, they looked good this morning. [Junior Danny] Farmer was lighting it up, their goalie [junior Mike Hill] was on top of things. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

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