Despite guiding Sandburg to the state’s Elite Eight on four previous occasions during the 12 years that boys’ water polo has been an IHSA-sanctioned sport, Eagles coach Jim Caliendo was not convinced his 2014 squad was of that same caliber.
But that’s exactly what Sandburg became on Saturday when it defeated Andrew 12-10 in the Lincoln-Way Central Sectional championship match. The victory was realized when Zach Roper scored two goals, both on lob shots, in the final 93 seconds.
The Eagles (25-8), who will be making their third trip to state in four years, meet Naperville North in one of today’s quarterfinals at Stevenson High School.
“I didn’t know if this team had the potential to go downstate, but they put it all together and proved themselves,” Caliendo said. “It was a very exciting match. Andrew is very well coached and they were very senior-based. They had good, tall athletes with long arms [and] very athletic bodies.
“Andrew was impressive, so we were very happy to get by them. It took about everything we had and every play we had in our playbook. Zach Roper has averaged six goals a game for us — it’s amazing what he’s done this season.”