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Water Polo Wins 15th Title
>>>CLICK HERE for photos from the championship game.
The Jr. Billikens captured the Missouri State Water Polo Championship on May 14 at the Rec Plex with a come-from-behind 9-6 victory over the Ladue Rams. With the win, SLUH extends its record number of championships to 15 and becomes the only program ever to capture five in six years.
The Rams came out firing and playing inspired water polo, leading SLUH 4-2 at halftime. However, SLUH controlled play throughout the second half. Early in the third quarter, senior Joe Kabance scored off a scramble in front, and classmate Michael Hagerty converted a beautiful left-handed sweep shot to tie the game. The Rams responded with a goal of their own, but junior Justin Ramacciotti's lob from in close knotted the score a second time.
On the next SLUH possession, junior Sam Erlinger skipped in a free throw to put the Jr. Bills ahead for the first time. But failing to match up on the restart gift-wrapped an easy goal for the Rams to bring the score even again. With time winding down in the third quarter, Erlinger found Kabance for SLUH's only 6-on-5 tally of the game, and the Jr. Bills held a one-goal lead entering the fourth quarter.
Inspired by some wisdom from junior goalkeeper Sean Sullivan, SLUH controlled the fourth quarter. Senior captain John Lewis drew a penalty shot with just over three minutes left, and after a timeout to rest, coolly converted it to put the Jr. Bills up two. Shortly thereafter, isolated against only one defender, Erlinger found the netting with a sweep shot to put the game away.
The seven seniors closed out their high school careers by playing keep-away for the last couple minutes, then happily led the celebration that ended in the coaches going for a swim with their team.
The future looks promising for the Jr. Billikens, as the junior varsity water polo squad captured the state title May 6.
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