The Fenwick girls water polo team kicked off the season on a high note by downing Loyola 9-7 last week. The two-time defending state champs may now be without prolific scorer Megan Bonk – who scored 91 goals in 30 games last season before graduating – but the return of Stephanie Ovalle and Emma McKernin gives the Friars enough firepower to make up for the loss.

Ovalle, who netted six goals in the season opener, and McKernin are now seniors charged with guiding along a relatively young squad. The duo, which combined to score 64 goals during the regular season last year, seems up for the challenge.

Others expected to give the Friars a boost include Molly Loeffler, Natalie Dunlap, Brittney Kulik and goalie Mary Bridgette Barrett, who racked up 46 saves playing as backup behind Mariclaire Bresnahan.

Juniors Maggie Carey, Diana Angelini, Gena Wendt, Annie Collins, Nora Sweeny and Mimi Romano are likely to see significant playing time this season, according to head coach Jack Wagner.

Wagner said he’s likely to call on sophomores Mary Devereux and Maureen Barron quite a bit this season.

“As the season progresses I expect us to get better and better,” said Wagner. “If everything comes together we could, with a few breaks, contend for another state title.”

Fenwick has won five of the last six state titles, and, despite losing several key players to graduation after last season’s state run, are ranked No. 1 in’s preseason poll. Ranked second in the preseason poll is Naperville Central, who the Friars pummeled 15-5 to win last season’s state title.

Fenwick travels to Stevenson on Tuesday, followed by a trip to St. Viator on March 24. The Friars return home on March 25 to face Marian Catholic at 6:30 p.m.

The team travels up the road to go head-to-head with rival Oak Park on April 15. The Friars downed the Huskies 25-7 to win the sectional last year.