The Lyons Township High School boys water polo team’s bid to defend its state championship fell just short, not surprisingly at the hands of Fenwick. LTHS (29-2) lost to the eventual state champion Friars twice, including a sectional championship meeting in the playoffs. With the exception of the Lions’ inspired 2012 title run, Fenwick has won 9 of the past 10 state championships.

“We had a great season (last year) in terms of wins and losses and what we were able to do,” LTHS coach Doug Eichstaedt said. “Our goal was to win another state championship but we fell just short. We had a great group of seniors last year, and [now] the seniors this year know that it’s their turn to lead the team.”

Key returning seniors include team captains Nathan Kriha and Jack Patel, as well as George Duffy and Matt Baldassarre. Junior Tommy Kaptur and sophomore George Lundgren are other returning contributors for LTHS.

 After stepping in to help the Lions win their own invite last season, goalie Jack Linden takes over as the full-time starter in net this spring.

“Jack played some great games [at last year’s LTHS invite],” Eichstaedt said. “It was really valuable experience for him. He’s going to be a really big part of our team this year.”

The Lions opened the season with a 10-7 win over Oak Park and River Forest.

“Our kids always put in a lot of hard work throughout the year,” Eichstaedt said. “They want to go back to state. I think they are capable of doing some really exciting things this year.”

LTHS girls focused on success in conference, playoffs

The first priority for the LTHS girls water polo team is to defend its West Suburban Conference Silver Division title. After hopefully realizing that goal, the Lions will turn their attention to the playoffs, looking to build off last year’s sectional finals appearance against Fenwick.

“Our team has prepared hard in the offseason and has improved tremendously over the past year,” LTHS coach Lauren Burel said. “This group of girls has their hearts and eyes set on a state tournament appearance.

“The girls are realizing what it takes and are doing what they need to do in order to achieve it. We need to have a solid team understanding of our offensive and defensive strategies. They’re willing to put in the work necessary to be successful in just these short eleven weeks of the water polo season.”

Seniors Haley Hughes, Frankie Delleman, Meredith Land, Allie Kurth and Lindsay Wantuck all return to action for the Lions, along with juniors Caroline Walsh, Julia Cohen, and Emma Hirt.

“Walsh will lead the team on both offense and defense,” Burel said. “This team should have great success with major impacts offensively from Delleman, Hughes, Land and Cohen. Hirt will provide impressive stats defensively.”

Newcomers include juniors Almasa Duheric, Sara McTigue, Erin Yang and sophomore Grace Wackerman. Junior Jessie Wittenberg and sophomore Madie Janik will share time in goal for the Lions.

“Wittenberg and Janik both made impressive strides on the JV squad last season,” Burel said. “They will be new faces in the goal this year both looking to make their mark.”