Mixed results for boys water polo point to need for increased consistency

Boys water polo started the season off hot with a seven game win streak. The team cooled off a little bit after losing five of the next six, and then proceeded to never streak longer than three games for the rest of the season.

“We suffered a lot when it came to having a consistent offense and having players who could really finish a goal,” says Class of 2022 senior captain Phillip Keith.

The need for more of this sort of consistency last season could most especially be seen in playoffs. At the Conference tournament, Evanston faced Glenbrook South in a repeat of the first game of the season. Despite the fact that almost two months had elapsed between game one and conference, Evanston’s 12-6 win against GBS turned into a 5-4 loss.  

“When it came to opponents who we saw as less skilled and coordinated, we often tended to play down to their level,” says Keith. “This ended up in either games that were way too close or outright losses.”

That being said, it wasn’t all bad news for the Kits. In the first round of the state tournament, Evanston went up against Loyola, a team they had not yet played this year. 

“Playing Loyola was the penultimate game for our varsity team,” says Keith. “The energy was really there and we were all very hyped to play. The focus, seriousness, and intensity tells you that it was by far the best game that Evanston boys water polo played.”

In what very well could have been the last game of the season, and in front of a packed crowd of fans that included ETHS water polo alumni, the Kits made sure to deliver. Largely thanks to a lead-taking goal scored by Keith, E-Town was able to persevere through the Sectional quarterfinals, taking it in a 4-3 nailbiter.

“One of my fondest memories from this season is our bench and crowd absolutely roaring when I gave us the lead against Loyola,” says Keith.

With the Loyola conquest in the books, next up on Evanston’s playoff horizon was Maine South. Though the game was far from lost at the start, it was sure to be an uphill battle for the Kits after having already lost to the Hawks twice in-season by secure margins. And in the end, the story pretty much wrote itself.

“In all honesty, Maine South was a team that just wanted the game more than we did,” says Keith.

Nevertheless, Keith leaves Evanston with a bold prediction.

“As a senior who has now graduated, I feel very confident with the team I’m leaving behind,” says Keith. “In two years Evanston will be the state championship team.”