RBHS seniors Murphy Regan (left) and Brad Ruska | BILL STONE

Senior Murphy Regan had his most memorable goal for the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys water polo team last season.

Besides celebrating Senior Night on May 4 with Brad Ruska, Regan had another goal he won’t soon forget. The defender converted a half-pool shot beautifully into the upper-left corner of the net to beat the buzzer that ended the third quarter.

“The farthest shot I’ve probably made. It really felt amazing shooting that,” Regan said. “I didn’t really think to aim or anything because there was like two seconds left on the clock. I kind of just got up and shot it and it went to plan for me. It was pretty nice.”

The Bulldogs’ small roster gave another inspired effort but were edged by Metea Valley 11-9. 

Regan, Ruska and junior Alex Jacobs each had two goals. Sophomore Avinesh Ponnappan and Rylan Bruno also scored. Sophomore goalie Martynas Bieliauskas had 13 saves.

RBHS (3-15) is the No. 5 seed in the Lyons Township Sectional. The Bulldogs play No. 4 Brother Rice in the quarterfinals on May 10. 

Regan has played water polo all four seasons, the last three on varsity. Ruska has played three seasons, two on varsity.

“I really enjoy just working with this year’s group. We really get to know each other since it’s smaller,” Ruska said. “We don’t always have everyone at practice, but when we do, it’s high intensity and we all work together really well.”  

The seniors truly are the veterans for a roster that also has only one junior in Jacobs. On May 4, the Bulldogs had their seven field players with just two subs.

“We’re not a quantity but a quality of players,” said RBHS coach Kevin Wolak. “[Regan and Ruska have] been leaders on the team, helping to teach the younger guys to kind of get them in our offense and help them progress a little bit quicker. In the game, they’re very good at communicating and being leaders in the water so they’ve helped out a lot.”

Ruska often plays in the hole position in front of the goal and has a team-high 31 goals. Regan has a team-high 12 assists. 

Especially on May 4, Ruska found himself swarmed by numerous Mustangs.

“It was a little tougher in the middle, having two, three guys on me, but we got a bunch of outside shots, which I’m glad for,” Ruska said.

The seniors also are swimmers and used that opportunity to improve their conditioning, which has been improved by intense water polo practices to overcome the numbers game. Ruska finished his swim season with a personal-best by four seconds in the 100-yard backstroke.

“You just have to be in the water for basically all four quarters,” Regan said. “Definitely the games that have a pool that’s half shallow and half deep help. Just because we don’t have a lot of subs, those are the games we have the most energy in.”  

Last season, Regan fondly remembers scoring a playoff goal against Lyons Township, which finished third in state.

Regan will attend Dayton and study business, primarily finance. Ruska will attend St. Louis University and study aeronautical science with hopes of becoming a commercial or private pilot. 

“Right now I’m probably at 30 hours. I’ll have my private [operator’s] license soon,” Ruska said.