Fenwick boys water polo continues impressive winning streak at state, reaches semifinals

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After struggling in man-up situations in last Saturday’s sectional title win over Lyons, Fenwick boys water polo coach Kyle Perry made that a point of emphasis this week.

Success in the man-up and in five-meter situations helped propel the defending state champions into the semifinals as the Friars pulled away for a 15-7 win over St. Ignatius in Thursday’s state quarterfinals at Stevenson. They will face the state’s top team, Naperville North, on Saturday at 9:00 AM.

It is Fenwick’s 11th trip to state since water polo became an IHSA sport, and the Friars are now a perfect 31-0 at state.

“Lyons last weekend shut us down in the man-up, we were 3-for-11,” Perry said. “All week we came in and talked about what we could do differently. We moved the ball well. Andrew (Bertschy’s) goal (in the second quarter), we had like eight passes. It’s hard to stop that.”

All three of the goals for Fenwick (30-4) in the second quarter came with a man advantage. Two of its four goals in the first half came on Danny Farmer penalty shots. When he was felled by foul trouble in the second half, Ryan Masi connected on a pair of penalty shots, as well.

“We did take advantage of our penalties,” Masi said. “On the five meters, that’s something that Danny and I work on a decent amount. On offense in the man-up, we had a lot of crisp passes. When you get the goalie moving, it’s a lot easier to score.”

Fenwick took a 7-3 lead at the half, but St. Ignatius (24-6) applied a bit more pressure in the second half. Tom Dowling, Shane Hughes and John Reyes each scored twice for the Wolfpack in the loss.

“I think the guys came out strong and played pretty well for the most part,” St. Ignatius coach Luis Martinez said. “We just had some trouble finishing our chances. In this game, you’ve got to score goals. Fenwick is a good team and they played really well.”

Masi led Fenwick with five goals. Farmer scored four times, while Bertschy and Bailey Wendt each scored twice. Goalie Mike Hill made 17 saves.

Next up is potentially the game of the tournament on paper. Naperville North (33-1) beat Fenwick, 11-10, on March 22 in the finals of the Friars’ Dan Lynch Classic.

“We knew since the beginning that it would be a hard road,” Perry said. “That’s what we want. It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re excited. Any chance you get to play another game is a good thing.”

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