OAK PARK — Once again, Fenwick and Lyons Township appear to be two of the premier boys water polo teams this spring.
The Friars got the upper hand in the first meeting between the two teams this season, winning the final of Fenwick's Dan Lynch Memorial Tournament 6-5 on Saturday. Last year, the Friars also beat LT at that tournament, but the Lions won the next two, including the sectional final, en route to the program's first-ever state title.
"We still want to come back and repeat, but it's a little bit different feel because we know that teams really want to pull us off the top spot," said LT senior goalie Chris Sekula. "We're still very dedicated and motivated to win again."
Fenwick had won the previous eight state titles and will be looking to get back on top led by top goal scorer Matt Farmer, who is committed to play for powerhouse UCLA. Farmer and Matt Bresnahan combined to score 19 goals in four games at the tournament.
Sekula will also be playing in college at Redlands College, a Division III program located 60 miles east of Los Angeles. His older brother currently attends Redlands and introduced him to the school.
Playing college water polo in California brings top competition, and Redlands plays a number of Division I schools on its schedule. Sekula's talent and experience will anchor the Lions' defense.
"He makes up for a lot of mistakes on the defensive end by making some great saves," said LT coach Doug Eichstaedt. "The guys get to shoot against him every day at practice so it just makes everyone better."
Last year's leading scorer, Joe Shannon, is also back along with the top two assisters in Josh Hirt and Peter Dore. Eichstaedt mentioned juniors George Duffy and Nathan Kriha and sophomore Tommy Kaptur as promising newcomers. Kaptur is the younger brother of former LT girls water polo all-stater Kirby Kaptur.
With some new names in the attack and Sekula manning the goal, the Lions will figure to be a defense-first team yet again. The early season defeat against Fenwick, as well as a tight 6-5 win over Naperville North on Friday, provided an early measuring stick for the Lions.
"It's a good learning experience in the beginning of the season to get games like this to see what we need to work on," Eichstaedt said. "We always try to work our defense first and the offense we have a couple new starters and everyone's got different roles so there's going to be some adjustments going on."