Boys water polo: Lyons beats Stevenson for third IHSA state title

Lions ride fast start to 10-7 win, first state title since 2015

Lyons goalkeeper Charlie Vlk and teammate Ben Kozak defend against a Stevenson shot in the IHSA boys water polo championship in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

LINCOLNSHIRE – After emerging with tough semifinal wins May 18, both Lyons Township and Stevenson each sought their third IHSA state title at the Patriots’ home pool in Lincolnshire on Saturday night.

Thanks in large part to a strong start that established control of the contest, the Lions will be taking home the title to their La Grange campus after defeating Stevenson 10-7. It was Lyons’ first championship since 2015.

Lyons (27-3) got off to a 3-0 lead after one period.

Senior Finn Vahey found senior teammate Brendan Whelton just 79 seconds into the second period, making it a 4-0 advantage.

Senior co-captain Olin Kusevskis got Stevenson (24-9-1) on the board at the 4:28 mark of the second period. Sophomore Armeet Gill followed with a goal 45 seconds later to pull the Patriots to within 4-2.

After the Patriots closed the gap to 5-4 just 75 seconds into the second half, Vahey found sophomore Luke Jackson for the second time in the match. That goal was followed by junior Sami Rabah’s second tally that gave Lyons a 7-4 edge.

The Patriots rallied again with two scores in the final 41 seconds of the period, including Gill’s third goal with 10 ticks left that made it 8-6.

Lyons celebrates their win in the final seconds in the IHSA boys water polo championship against Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

Lyons delivered the finishing touches with both Jackson and Rabah completing hat tricks, the latter’s third goal coming with 10 seconds remaining in the match.

Vahey, who ended with five assists, said scoring came down to simply finding the open man.

“I just passed it and they finished and they’re always finishing their shots,” Vahey said. “We [executed] our plan. This is magical. This is a once in a lifetime thing.”

Patriots coach Sean Wimer credited his four seniors – Gill, Joshua Moreyno, Nazar Mytrofanyuk and Kusevskis – for guiding a young squad that lost 12 seniors from the state finalist team last spring.

“Our seniors were outstanding,” Wimer said. “We’re a very young team and the fact that we were even in this position, I am so proud of this group and how we were able to develop.”

Thanks to a five-goal outburst in the opening period of play, Naperville North (31-5) won the third-place match over Whitney Young 17-9.

Senior Brett Grady paved the way for the Huskies with seven goals as they bounced back from a 7-6 semifinal loss to Stevenson.

Juniors Mason Hofmann (5 goals) and Jack Reif (4 goals) also had big efforts for Naperville North.

Junior Luka Spasic and sophomore Yahir Jimenez each tallied three times for Young, which lost 12-7 to Lyons in the semifinals. Young finished 24-8 on the season.