Did you ever have the opportunity to watch a high school water polo game? It is a fast-paced team sport, featuring individual swimmers expending a lot of energy trying to get a ball in the opponent’s goal. It is a sport with a language all its own. And as one player’s mother informed me, there are no horses in water polo.
Like many other sports, offense is generated by playing great team defense. Just like Hornet basketball, the Saline Hornet varsity boys’ water polo team prides itself on playing tenacious team defense. And that defense was on display Tuesday evening as the Hornets hosted the Sylvania High School, defeating the Wildcats 13-5.
The Hornets stormed out to a quick 7-0 lead, led by senior Alex Melnyk’s four first quarter goals. Melnyk opened the scoring at the 6:21 mark, firing a shot from 15-feet out. Senior Josh Birch scored :33 seconds later to up the Hornet lead to 2-0.
Melnyk scored his second goal of the night :25 seconds later firing in a short shot, with an assist to Hornet goaltender junior Will Clark. And Melnyk upped Saline’s lead to 4-0 at the 4:50 mark of the opening quarter.
Junior Caleb Koob and senior Colin Nouhan scored goals :29 seconds apart to stake the Hornets to a 6-0 lead. Nouhan’s goal was assisted by junior Nick McManama. Birch scored his second of the period with 2:16 left on a nice shot from the left side.
Melnyk closed out the first period scoring onslaught with a quick shot from 20-feet out to stake Saline to an 8-1 lead at the end of the first seven minutes.
Saline Varsity Head Coach Chris Stankovic, a 2015 Saline High School grad and former polo player himself, said he made some adjustments to start the second quarter that allowed his players to work on different parts of their offense and defense.
“I knew we could score on break-away shots and I could tell our opponent was a little out-matched tonight, so I changed things up,” Stankovic said. “I was really proud at how well Melnyk shot the ball tonight but after the first quarter we wanted to get others involved in our offense.”
The Hornets were outscored 4-3 through the remaining three quarters to take a 13-5 victory over the Wildcats. The win raises the team record to 13-23 on the season. Senior goaltender Allen Holloway made 15 saves on the night, including a thrilling three-save sequence in the fourth quarter.
Other Hornets to score in the contest includes junior Caleb Koob and sophomore Jacob Kacic. Senior Colin Nouhan scored the final two goals for the Hornets with less than two minutes left in the game.
SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Alex Melnyk (6 goals & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Allen Holloway (15 saves)
3rd Star: Colin Nouhan (3 goals)