Boys Water Polo: St. Charles Cardinals capture third consecutive state championship

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group

Senior Will Elsrod scored seven goals and senior Wil Borchers added five to help St. Charles cruise past host Cincinnati Princeton 20-8 on May 22 in the final of the state boys water polo tournament to win its third consecutive championship.

The Cardinals finished 18-4 in a season that saw the sport moved from fall to spring because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“It was definitely worth the wait,” said Elsrod, who scored four goals in the fourth quarter. “I think this is one of our best performances as a team because we were able to get outside shots, looks in center, counter attacks, we got a little bit of everything. This game was a lot of fun.”

St. Charles water polo players took the trophy into the pool to celebrate their state championship May 22. The Cardinals defeated host Cincinnati Princeton 20-8 behind seven goals from Will Elsrod and five from Wil Borchers.

Princeton scored the opening goal 1 minutes, 26 seconds into the game, but the Cardinals led 5-1 after the first period. Senior Donnie Richardson had three of his four goals in the first.

“There was no panic at all because we knew they were going to come out fighting,” Richardson said. “We came out with a lot of grit. Shooting isn’t my top thing, but when I need to shoot I can shoot. It came down to my teammates setting it all up.”

Senior Lukas Rakowsky had three goals for the Cardinals, and senior Austin Grzybicki added the other. Senior goalie Chase Bateman had 15 saves.

“I took a gap year to focus on swimming, but the boys got me back here and it was worth it,” Bateman said. “I was a field player before this year, but I went in goal and I have loved it. I have the best shooters in the state shooting on me every single day in practice and it’s made me better.”

The Cardinals reached the final in the four-team state tournament by defeating Cincinnati St. Xavier 11-8 in a semifinal earlier in the day. Princeton defeated Upper Arlington 13-9 in the other semifinal. 

“We just played our game and trusted that we were going to come through,” first-year St. Charles coach Andrew Hoffman said. “We had seen Princeton and knew their offense and knew what they could do.”

Golden Bears rough up

Bombers to place third

Avery Voss’ five goals and four from Clark Pabst helped a second-half surge as UA pulled away from St. Xavier, winning 18-7 in the third-place game. 

The Bombers scored three consecutive goals to erase a 5-0 deficit late in the first half, but the Golden Bears scored the final two goals of the second quarter and the last three of the third to take a 13-4 lead. 

UA, which finished 24-5-1, was coming off a loss to Princeton in its semifinal. 

“Our guys fought back really hard. They showed up,” UA coach J.J. Spangler said. “Everyone did their job and that’s all I could have asked. They played fast and strong, basic things that have made us good all year. We controlled the ball and didn’t turn it over (in the second half). That’s our No. 1 thing, being able to outswim other teams, make them tired and make them make mistakes.” 

Patrick Ray and Thomas Ray each added two goals for the Bears. 

Drew Mussman scored twice to lead St. Xavier. 

–Dave Purpura

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