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  • Written by Anthony Nasella

The captain is back and Sandburg girls water polo three-peats in conference

Having already scored a conference victory earlier in the season over Lincoln-Way East, the Sandburg girls’ polo team knew that a win over the Griffins May 5 would seal the SouthWest Suburban Blue title for the Eagles.
And that’s exactly what happened. Behind even goals from Sarah Dolitsky, combined with a total-team effort, Sandburg prevailed 10-6 in Orland Park for its third straight conference title.
It was the first of three wins during the week for the Eagles (20-8, 11-2), who added a 7-2 victory over Neuqua Valley the following night and a 10-4 win over Homewood-Flossmoor last Wednesday night.
The win against Lincoln-Way East was significant for the Eagles because the game marked the return of team captain Danielle Lencioni, who had been recovering from a broken hand. She had a goal and two assists against the Griffins.
“Losing Danielle was a had been a big loss for us,” Sandburg coach Sofia Pappanastos said. “The girls were all excited and pumped for to have her back because they were waiting to have their full team back together.

“Everybody was ready, and having Danielle back was definitely a confidence booster coming into the game. They knew they needed to go all-out in this game, and the girls did that.”
Dolitsky scored all of Sandburg’s goals in the first quarter, as the team jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and an eventual 4-2 halftime advantage. The Eagles pulled away for good in the second half, 9-3, behind three goals from Dolitsky and two from Stephanie Pappas.
Thankfully, the team’s success is not based off of one person,” Pappanastos said. “The girls are so used to working together. When you take one girls out of the equation, like Danielle, it was a challenge. Everybody knew we were back to being a full team.”
When Lincoln-Way East summoned a small rally, cutting its deficit to 9-6, Sandburg held together – as Lencioni scored off a Dolinsky pass with 2:17 left in the contest to close out the scoring and the conference title.
“This was an obvious big win, and it was good for the girls,” the coach said. “But when I talked to them after the game, I didn’t downplay us winning conference. However, we know that it’s just a stepping stone for us. We want to win sectionals and go to state – the girls want that.”
“It’s always a good accomplishment to win conference,” Pappanastos said. “We can’t let it go to our heads, though. I told the girls we have to treat this just like any other win. Sectionals are the most important thing.”
Against Neuqua Valley, Sarah Dolitsky finished with four goals and five steals, and Caitlyn Olson added four steals. In the win over H-F, Dolitsky scored in five goals and added five steals to lead visiting Sandburg in the SouthWest Suburban Blue contest.
“Sarah is another big leader on this team,” she said. “She can shoot from anywhere. I have total confidence in her ability from anywhere, but she’ll also pass to anyone who is open. Sarah and Danielle have that connection offensively – just as Olsen and Pappas have that connection on defense.”
And the connection that Pappanastos has with the team dates years back – even though this is just her first season coaching the varsity team with long time head coach Jane Caliendo on the sidelines battling cancer.
“I’ve coached the girls in age-group swimming,” she said. “I also had summer league at Riverside-Brookfield, and Sarah and some of the other girls would play on my summer league team. To have the girls the way they are is a blessing. The best words I can say about them is they are a huge family.
“Everything thing they do, they do together, and they give you their all. They’re more worried about disappointing their coaches than themselves. Put on a good fight every time they go out there and play. All in all, they’ve stuck together – and nothing gets in their way.’’
And the team has kept their own challenges in perspective as they remember Caliendo – as well as all the lessons that she has taught them.
“There’s no complaints about getting tired or being sore because they know it’s nothing compared to what coach Jane is going through,” she said. “They all listen. There’s not one bad kid on that team. Every time they practice or play a game, they listen. They’ll do whatever they need to do to get better.”
Getting better, to be sure, will be the team’s top priority at this week’s Stagg Sectional. The opens up tonight against Curie. A win will advance the Eagles to a Friday contest against Bremen. The winner there faces McAuley for the Sectional title.
A rematch against the Mighty Macs would be a big one – it was against the Mighty Macs that Lencioni broke her hand in a setback.
“We were tied (against McAuley) going into the last quarter when Danielle broke her hand and everything fell apart,” Pappanastos said. “It’s probably a blessing in disguise because now we can go out there harder, knowing what we have to do.”
Boys Water Polo
Stagg
The Chargers racked up three more wins this past week in the South Suburban Blue: A 14-10 overtime win over Homewood-Flossmoor on Monday, a 7-3 victory over Lockport on Wednesday, and a 14-8 triumph over Lincoln-Way East on Friday.
Against H-F, Nick Amendola scored six goals, and his twin brother, Zack, added five to boost visiting Stagg. Peter Krivanec netted a hat trick, and Lane Holin made 18 saves to lift host Stagg against Lockport.
In the win over Lincoln-Way East, Connor Kaufmann scored three first-half goals to propel host Stagg in the conference win.
Sandburg
The Eagles captured a pair of matches this past week in the SouthWest Suburban Blue – defeating Lincoln-Way East 12-4 on Monday and Homewood-Flossmoor 14-11 on Wednesday.
In the win over Lincoln-Way East 4, Zach Roper totaled six goals, and Sean McNicholas stopped 15 shots to propel visiting Sandburg. Against H-F, Roper had seven goals for host Sandburg.
Shepard
The Astros co-op squad captured a 12-9 victory over Bremen co-op on Monday. Chris Reyes and Zach Sierzega each netted hat tricks to lead host Shepard. Jerry Zachery and Lucas Souza added two goals, and Sanders Yu and Alec Kleckzowski each chipped in with one.
Girls Soccer
Shepard
The Astros improved to 12-4-1 and 8-2 in the South Suburban Red with a 4-0 victory over Evergreen Park on Tuesday. Kelly Evancich netted two goals and Heather Banis notched her 10th shutout with three saves to propel visiting Shepard
Evancich now has 17 goals on the season for the Astros, who also received scores from Tiffani Kotas and Aubrey Quick.
Stagg
The Chargers were edged 1-0 by Lockport in the South Suburban Blue May 6.
Boys Volleyball
Sandburg
After their third-place showing at the 24-team Lincoln-Way East Invitational on Saturday, the Eagles handed Lincoln-Way West just its third loss of the season on Monday night.
Paul Chmura and Neil Naughton had 10 kills apiece and Sandburg prevailed 25-16, 16-25, 25-20 in Orland Park. The Eagles (20-8) have won eight of their last nine contests.
Dan Tynski had eight kills, Ian Zalewski dished 30 assists and Eric Krause patrolled the back row with eight digs for Sandburg.
Shepard
The Astros dropped three matches this past week – to Illiana Christian 25-15, 25-18 on May 5, Richards 25-13, 23-25, 25-16 on May 6 and Reavis 25-19, 25-17 on Thursday.
In the loss to Illiana, Doug Nelson chalked up eight digs and three, and Edgar Madrigal had 16 playable serve receive passes and 5 defensive digs for Shepard. Against Richards, Nelson finished with eight kills for host Shepard in the South Suburban Red.
Against Reavis in the South Suburban Red on Thursday, Steve Szajek had two kills and three blocks, and Bartek Juszczak had one ace serve and two blocks. The Astros were 7-15 and 2-3 in conference.
Stagg
The Chargers dropped a 25-14, 25-16 decision to Lincoln-Way East in the SouthWest Suburban Red last Wednesday.
Boys Tennis
Shepard
The Astros captured a pair of matches this past week in the South Suburban Red – defeating Oak Lawn 4-1 on May 6 and Richards 3-2 last Wednesday.
Against Oak Lawn, Kyle McNamara and Bryan Spoon prevailed at No. 1 doubles for host Shepard. In the win over Richards, Brian Spoon and Kyle McNamara won at No. 1 doubles for host .
Sandburg
The Eagles split a pair of matches this past week – defeating Stagg 5-2 on Tuesday in the South Suburban Blue and dropping a 6-1 contest to Lincoln-Way East in the SouthWest Suburban crossover on Thursday.
In the win over Stagg, Jonluke Passett (No. 1 singles) was among the winners for host Sandburg. Against Lincoln-Way East Passett won again at No. 1 singles for the Eagles.
Girls Track
Sandburg
The Eagles took fifth at the SouthWest Suburban Blue Meet Thursday night with 59 point at Joliet West. Sandburg got first-place finishes from Renee Letz in the 800 (2:21.79) and Casey Jensen in the 1,600 (5:24.15).
Shepard
South Suburban Red Meet: Alondra Delfin posted victories in the mile run (5:50.99) and 2-mile run (13:07.42) in guiding Shepard (176) to first place on Thursday. The Astros also prevailed in the 400 relay (49.70), 800 relay (1:45.41) and 2-mile relay (10:21.90).

Badminton
Stagg
The Chargers scored 7.5 points at Thursday’s T.F. South Sectional, as teammates Agnieszka Szudy and Julia Hernandez took third in doubles.
Shepard
The Astros scored 1.5 points at Thursday’s Lockport Sectional.