A water polo goalie needs more than good reflexes and great anticipation skills to be successful in this grueling sport.
Just ask Elk Grove junior goalkeeper Alex Thanopoulos, who, like his peers, had to endure a tingling in the face.
“You can’t be afraid of the ball,” the Grenadiers said after the Mid-Suburban League crossover in Schaumburg on Friday afternoon.
“My father (George) told me, ‘The ball won’t bite you.’ “
Elk Grove got his first taste of victory in eight games this spring, after Thanopoulos’ 13 saves (including a 5-meter penalty) and second-year Daniel Bochenek’s career-high five goals. beat the Saxons 10-5.
The same Daniel Bochenek has scored 1 goals in total in 2021. And in the last game.
“Lucky goal,” recalls Bochenek, a freestyler and butterfly swimmer during the winter swimming season. “Before the season started, I focused on swimming. It was a good change to be able to score more points than I did as a freshman.”
Junior Sam Sacha added three goals for the Grens (1-7), and Junior Aiden Chan and Phil Moskal added one each.
Elk Grove led 6-1 at halftime and 9-2 three quarters later.
“Overall, possession,” Elk Grove coach Mike Nolte said of what impressed him the most with his players’ efforts Friday. “Before today, we seemed to be lacking in that area.
“I also like our ‘D’, our constant pressure. Everyone’s hands up. Defense is something we emphasize.”
Sanopoulos handled the last line of defense with ease in the water at Schaumburg. The Dreadnought – Sports Cap No. 1 – keeps it simple by treating every enemy equally.
“Every team we play for is an amazing team in my opinion, the best team I will face all season,” the goalkeeper explained. “That’s what I think before and during every game. It also helped me figure out the tendencies of their shooters today.”
Schaumburg’s freshman lineup was punctuated by three goals from junior Tim Dombrowski, two of which came from a 5-meter chuck in the fourth quarter. As many as nine freshmen became coach Tyler Clark’s varsity team.
Rookies Owen Vanecko and Octavio Zemaitaitis contributed to the Saxons’ other goals. An alert Zemettis bounced back to score.
The determined Schaumburg (1-5) recorded 3 of 5 goals in the second half of the final innings.
“We’re young, really, really young,” Clark pointed out, adding that he’s only played eight games before this year due to a shortened season last spring and no season in 2020. “I’ve been explaining the sport to our players. But, after struggling in the first few games, we’ve been packing up. Our defense looked better today.
“We gain more confidence in every game.”
After baseball cut his junior, Clark happily added Dombrowski to his plan.
“He’s a strong physical player,” Clark said. “And he’s only getting better. He’s a leader who has done a great job for us. Tim is enjoying water polo. It’s his sport right now, his niche.”