Neuqua Valley holds off Waubonsie Valley in sectional semifinals

SHARE Neuqua Valley holds off Waubonsie Valley in sectional semifinals

On paper, the matchup of fourth-seeded Neuqua Valley and fifth-seeded Waubonsie Valley in Wednesday’s Metea Valley Sectional boys water polo quarterfinals figured to be the best of the day. The game lived up to its advanced billing. Neuqua led the whole way, aside from a brief 2-2 tie in the first quarter, but had to fight to fend off a feisty Waubonsie squad in a 15-12 win. Neuqua will face the state’s top team, Naperville North, in Friday’s semifinals. North had little trouble with Hinsdale Central, 17-2, in its quarterfinal game. “We’d get up three or four goals, and they would cut it to two every single time,” Neuqua junior Simon Shatinsky said. “They kept coming back. We were trying to draw a lot of ejections on their top guys. When they had two or three starters on the bench with foul trouble, it’s a really good chance for us to really help ourselves.” Neuqua (18-13) pushed the lead to three twice in the first half, only to see Waubonsie (17-13) find ways to answer. The lead was 6-4 at the half. Then both teams kept firing in an entertaining third period that went back and forth. The Wildcats pushed the lead to 10-6 on a Joey Dalesandro goal with3:29left in the third, but the Warriors answered with three goals in the next1:27to cut the lead to 10-9. Cameron Steele scored two of the goals with Kay Anderssen adding the other. “We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a pretty evenly-matched game,” Waubonsie coach Matt Niemeier said. “We obviously would have liked to have gotten a win, but we did a really good job of executing what we wanted to do on offense. We just couldn’t score enough.” Neuqua was never able to fully pull away, but the Wildcats did just enough scoring to finish the Warriors off. Close friends out of the pool, Shatinsky and Steele put on an offensive show. Shatinsky scored eight goals for Neuqua, with Steele scoring seven for Waubonsie. Dalesandro scored three goals for Neuqua. Brandin Krug and Mitch Kroening each scored twice for Waubonsie. Neuqua’s focus now shifts to Friday’s showdown with 29-1 Naperville North, a team the Wildcats lost to twice this season. “Certainly, they’re not going to take us for granted,” Shatinsky said. “They’re going to come out firing. We’re going to do everything in our power to come out and get that upset and try to get to the finals and possibly state.”

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