Wrap-up from St. Louis DeSmet Tourney

  • Brett Auten of StlHighSchoolSports.com shares all the details of SLUH’s impressive overtime win over Fenwick to win the DeSmet Invitational last night. The Midwestern rivals put on an exciting display of water polo for the fans, many of whom collected at the Rec-Plex entrance to cheer the title-winners. SLUH emerges from the tournament the clear number one in Missouri, while Fenwick must recover from two losses in St. Louis to tussle with rival, and number one ranked, Lyons Township back in Illinois.

  • Kirkwood achieved very good results at the tournament with its fifth place standing after a well played and exciting win over MICDS, which defeated Fenwick earlier on Saturday. One of the most notable players of the tournament was Junior Nicki Borella who plays a key role on Coach Reza Behnam’s squad and easily holds her own against typically bigger male opponents. Not only did she tally a pinpoint upper-corner score versus SLUH on Thursday night, but emerged from the MICDS match with a noticeable shiner.
  • Borella highlights the impressive role girls play in high school water polo in Missouri. Kirkwood and Parkway West both notably field girls on their roster. There seems little momentum, however, toward establishing girls high school water polo despite its growth in the area at the club level and the talents of the girls who do play. One reason for optimism is Colleen Lischwe, Kirkwood assistant and former Division I player at Marist. The St. Louis Area Polo (SLAP) and Midwest ODP coach serves as a de facto mentor to Borella (who does aspire to play collegiately) and is eager to see yet more growth in the region among girls. Missouri seems ripe for growth among high school girls, especially since the game has been so well established with boys, and the girls game has proven so successful in adjacent Illinois.
  • Sporting tattered bandages and a cast from his recent hand surgery, Fenwick’s Matt Farmer was forced to cheerlead and share coaching tips with his teammates during their final two matches. After the match the UCLA-bound senior revealed that he’ll be spending the summer in North San Diego County with USA Youth National Teammate and Vista High senior Ryder Roberts. The two will work under former UCLA star and US Olympian Brett Ormsby at Del Mar Water Polo Club.
  • Several other tournament players besides Farmer will be heading off to play collegiately this fall. Just two of them are Fenwick’s big lefty Matt Bresnahan, who’s relocating to Bucknell and could be spending meaningful time training in Florida this summer, and DeSmet’s Will Diemer. The crafty defender, who lead the Spartans in steals, will join the Gaels of Iona in August.
  • Demonstrating the reach of USA Water Polo’s development program, one player remarked while watching a rival’s match, “you can tell who’s in ODP right away.” Apparently the “squared up” shooting technique is a sure giveaway.
  • Though not exactly contiguous with the bulk of St. Louis high schools, the area is fortunate to have the St. Peters RecPlex as a venue for water polo. The cavernous facility not only houses a 50-meter competition pool with excellent seating for spectators, but an ice hockey rink, basketball courts, an indoor running track and voluminous weight-lifting and cardio workout facilities. One note: University of Texas’ spectacular indoor swim center sports three gigantic ceiling fans to keep that humid air moving. Just an observation…
  • For those of us who learned water polo via certain big names of American water polo in the early eighties, talking with local legend Don Casey is like putting on a comfortable sweater. A contemporary of legends like Monte Nitzkowski and Ken Lindgren he houses more knowledge of American water polo than nearly anyone in the community. Calling a water polo coach a “treasure” is a bit precious, but St. Louis is fortunate to have this font of polo knowledge in their service. And his well-organized MICDS team shows it too.
  • It’s no secret that the DeSmet tourney serves as a de facto spring boys’ high school water polo “championship” for TWp, thus our interest in covering it. Other coaches with whom we spoke agree and look for the tournament to expand in its reach, its number of teams, or both. DeSmet coach and tournament organizer Miguel Figueras has already contacted teams in Texas for next year’s version, and may consider expanding the size of the competition to 16 teams in the future. Regardless, it is a well run tournament as is (though some desk and timing issues need to improve) and should continue to draw high quality competitors for years to come.
  • TWp received kind words and a nice reception from many people at the tournament. Thank you for them and for your continued support of Total Waterpolo.
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