After falling to Stevenson in the state water polo semi finals the night before, Neuqua Valley heads back into the Fenwick pool to face Lincoln-Way East for third place. The Griffins fell to Lyons Township as both teams try to end the year on a high note.
Lincoln-Way East water polo off to a strong start in this one, already leading 2-0 when Zach Formanski tracks down the pass Alex Goetsch for the goal. Griffins up 3-0 in the first two minutes.
But Neuqua Valley responds, Tyler Bartlett to Ryan Cercello who gets high for the one timer. Followed by a completely calm and collected celebration from Cercello.
A couple minutes later Michael Leshock to Jimmy Senese with the same result. In a blink, we are tied up at 3-3.
Game tied 4-4 near the end of the first quarter, quick ball movement from Neuqua starting with Chris Cottrill. Eventually Michael Leshock scores his second goal as the Wildcats jump in front up 5-4 after one.
Griffins back on the attack in the second quarter, Jayden Lott gets the pass and has to hold off defenders while waiting for an opening. He gets the shot to go and the game is tied once again 5-5.
Wildcats on the break, Austin Olson drops a pass to Jacob Duncan who skips a shot home. Blue and gold back in front 6-5.
Neuqua leading 8-6 near the end of the half, Zach Formanski gets a rebound off the crossbar and puts it home. Lincoln-Way East down by just one heading to halftime.
Neuqua turns defense into offense after Jacob Duncan blocks a shot. The Wildcats quickly get the ball up as Cercello finds Jimmy Sense to put the Cats back up by two. Three goals in this one for Senese.
Nick Baretto with a pass to Ryan Cercello for one of his four goals. The Wildcats lead 10-9 late in the third quarter.
But the Griffins always have a response, Jake Fisher with a strong shot into the goal ties the game at 10-10 as we head to the 4th quarter.
Under three minutes to play, defense has tightened up but Tyler Bartlett finds Jacob Duncan who bounces in the go ahead goal 11-10 NV.
Lincoln-Way East down one, Jake Fisher with a penalty shot, but a massive save from Neuqua goalie Alex Dunn to hang on to the slim lead.
But the Griffins get a steal moments later and Jayden Lott is fouled on the breakaway. That gives Jake Fisher another penalty shot. This time he makes it count and we are tied 11-11. A game high six goals for Fisher.
Under two minutes left and again it’s Jacob Duncan who gets to the middle and hits a big shot. The senior scores his 5th goal as Neuqua leads once again 12-11.
One minutes to play, Griffins look for the equalizer. Jake Wolf tries to get a shot past Dunn, but the senior goalie with another big save.
Under a minute left, Wildcats still up one, Austin Olson to Cercello who gets a no look shot off before the quadruple team arrives. Somehow it goes in and that seals the win for Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats take home the third place trophy and finish the best season in program history 18-2 after a thrilling 14-13 victory over Lincoln-Way East.
For more prep sports content, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page!