Boys water polo preps for postseason at Naperville North Tournament

Scott Lenz, Sports Editor

The boys water polo team continued their 2015 campaign with a 5th place finish at the Naperville North Husky Invitational Tournament on April 11. After losses to Naperville North and Sandburg in their first two games, the Vikings finished strong with a victory over conference rival Schaumburg.

In their first tournament of the year, the 28th ranked Fremd squad faced number 7 Naperville North and 17 Sandburg. Junior captain Robert De Pau highlights the importance of facing top competition in preparation for post-season play.

“The Naperville North Tournament is a great opportunity to see some of the better schools in the state,” De Pau said. “Going up against schools like that forces us, as a team, to play at a higher level.”

The Vikings came up short against Naperville North 7-12 and Sandburg 6-14, but they looked strong in certain aspects of each game. Coach Brian Newby emphasizes the team’s success in their defensive zone against Naperville North.

“I thought defensively we played a good game. We made some good moves, they were just a little bit cleaner and crisper than us, so it was hard to defend them,” Newby said. “I thought we had some positive defensive moves in there, so continuing to make those on a more frequent basis will help us to attain our goals for the year.”

This experience against highly ranked teams will be very important for the Vikes as the season continues. Junior John Tuzzolino describes how the tournament was a learning experience for the team, emphasizing communication and teamwork as key skills that the Vikings continue to develop.

“It really gives us some range on where we need to improve as a team and also as individuals,” Tuzzolino said. “Sectionals are coming up and we need to gel as a team and build up our chemistry if we want to get past Viator, Barrington and Conant.”

As the season progresses, the Vikings have focused on getting better each day both in their teamwork and physical skills. Newby discusses the continuing improvements the team has made in communication to overcome their inexperience.

“We’re a relatively young team, so we’re in the learning process. We do have a couple of seniors but the bulk of the starting unit is a junior based team,” Newby said. “We’re learning to gel with each other and we’re learning how to work well with each other.”

With a young team this year, the Vikings have relied upon their core leadership to guide them. Tuzzolino details the juniors who have stepped up to lead the team to a 9-6 record thus far this season.

“Our captains do a great job carrying the team: Dylan Assman, Robert De Pau, Nate Jordan and Alex Nicholas. Our goalie Zach Keper is a big voice for varsity this year too,” Tuzzolino said. “Their leadership and professionalism keep our team looking at a great finish to the season.”

This tournament marked a pivotal point in the season for the team. De Pau explains how they showed a large improvement from previous matches in playing a full game at a high level.

“The past few games we have had either a strong first half or a strong second half. Coach Newby’s goal for us this tournament was to have a strong overall game,” De Pau said. “After the tournament he was happy with how we played and the effort that we gave during the entirety of the games.”

In the third game of the tournament, Fremd faced a familiar opponent in conference rival Schaumburg. Newby credits the drastic improvements of the team to their dedication to constantly work hard and learn from both wins and tough losses.

“No more than a week earlier we beat Schaumburg 16-15 so to win 18-8 against them felt really good for the boys,” Newby said. “They saw that keeping their intensity and good defensive techniques does pay off and they played a better game against Schaumberg the second time through.”

With their eye on a deep run in the postseason, the Vikings take on Conant at 7:30 on April 22.