Every time the Fenwick and Oak Park boys water polo teams faced off this season the outcome was thrilling. On Saturday in the York Sectional Championship, it was no different. The Friars, who survived for two victories in three games during the regular season, held on for another with a 10-9 win.
Fenwick (29-2) finalized their plans for a possible seventh-straight state title when the Friars’ John Osborne scored and Dan Francisco stopped a last-second desperation shot on goal by Oak Park’s Nate Williams. Osborne’s goal from the right post broke a 9-9 tie with 39 seconds left in the game.
Down 6-4 at halftime, Oak Park came roaring back in the final quarter. Armando Lee’s second goal of the game came with 1:11 to go and knotted the score at 9-9.
Francisco finished with 17 saves, while Will Rigali led the Friars with five goals. Rigali also had three steals. Osborne finished with three goals and four steals and freshman Matt Farmer chipped in two goals and four steals.
“We kept our composure every time Oak Park would mount a come back and that seemed to be the difference in the game,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Perry. “Our team defense at times was outstanding, and we managed to get some opportunities off of the counter and that really helped us.
“We didn’t capitalize on our man-ups, only scoring on three out of nine. [That’s] something we must improve on if we are to beat Brother Rice on Thursday.
The Friars, who defeated Brother Rice 13-9 to win the Metro Catholic Aquatics Conference two weeks ago, take on the Crusaders in the state quarterfinals on Thursday at Stevenson High School. Fenwick hasn’t lost a game in the state playoffs since 2003. The IHSA State Championship is scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
The Huskies, who were ranked No. 1 by Illpolo.com in the preseason and expected to win the program’s first state title in years, close out the season with an impressive 22-4 record. Oak Park’s only victory over Fenwick came back in March, when the Huskies prevailed 16-10. Since then, Fenwick won three straight against Oak Park by a mere one goal.
Oak Park loses Dylan O’Connell, Tommy Poulos, Eric Hallman, Williams, Matt Michon, Tom Vogel, Miles O’Hare to graduation.