Regardless of its results the rest of the season, the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys water polo team has already accomplished more at the Stagg tournament this year than it had in the past three combined.
RBHS (3-3) won its first three matches against Hinsdale Central, Morton and Bradley-Bourbonnais at the tournament before losing to Oak Park and River Forest 11-10 in the closing seconds of Saturday’s championship match.
The encouraging success at the Stagg tourney (which the Bulldogs went winless at during their three previous appearances) will hopefully serve as a springboard for a successful spring campaign.
Coach Peter Murphy likes the makeup of his team.
“Our biggest strength is the character of the players themselves,” Murphy said. “Every day they impress me with how mature they are and how much they grow. I think the fact that they are supportive of each other helps bring them the confidence and the swagger needed to play water polo.”
Senior Tim Somers and senior goalie Simon Kritikos, along with a talented crop of juniors including Dominic Rosa, Paul Sitkiewicz, Dan Magee, Zach Temmer and Anthony Colon comprise the nucleus of the team.
“[Somers] has done a tremendous job leading this team,” Murphy said. “[Kritikos] has been really coming along with his goalie skills; he’s really our enforcer out there.”
Freshmen Joey Rosa and Coulter Greenwell are looking to make an immediate impact.
“Greenwell is a natural athlete,” Murphy said. “When you see him in the water, you can just tell he’s got the making to be a great player someday.”
Bulldogs win opener for new girls coach Agrela
The RBHS girls water polo team will have a new look this season, and it’s not even in the pool. Maria Elena-Agrela replaces Sofia Pappanastos as the Bulldogs’ head coach this spring. Last season, the Bulldogs finished 13-18 under Pappanastos.
This year, the Bulldogs edged Morton 8-7 (Mar. 12) to start Agrela off on a victorious note. Hannah Flynn scored three goals to lead RBHS. Dana Callanan and Sydney Veon contributed two goals each for the Bulldogs, while Destiny O’Day added a goal and goalie Amy Frey had 12 blocked shots.
“It’s very exciting and a little overwhelming at the same time,” Agrela said about the coaching opportunity. “I’m teaching them new things and focusing more on defense than they have in the past. The great thing about the girls is that they’re really willing to learn. They are open to what I am teaching them.”
As seniors, Veon, Callanan and Frey offer the Bulldogs much-needed experience. Only a sophomore, Flynn, is another key returner with talent and experience.
“[Veon] is going to be a major scorer for us this year,” Agrela said. “[Callanan] is a great all-around player. I’m looking forward to trying her out at different positions and letting her try new things.”
To create additional depth on the varsity roster, Agrela called up Carrie and Marissa Sosa from the JV squad.
“The sophomores that moved up from JV to varsity will not only make the team stronger this year but the years after,” Agrela said. “I moved them up because I know that they have a lot of potential.”