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UP Water Polo Loses Matches with Perk Valley
Written by Ernir Quatrani, Correspondent
2020-10-14

            The outmanned--and outwomaned--Upper Perk water polo teams dropped a pair of contests to Perkiomen Valley in the Tribe's natatorium on Tuesday afternoon. The boys fell 13-11 and the girls lost 9-6.

            The Vikings jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the boys match and led 10-4 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter until Kyle Kovalenko (seven goals) spearheaded a flurry of scores to cut the deficit to 11-9 entering the fourth quarter.

            But Perk Valley tightened up on defense and added two goals to offset a pair of scores by Upper Perk to swim away with the victory.

            For Upper Perk Josh McKelvy scored three goals and Colin Henry one.

            The girls game followed a similar script with the Tribe falling behind 4-0 in the second quarter. Caitlyn McKelvy's two goals helped bring Upper Perk to within 4-3 at the half.

            Perk Valley, however, essentially put the game away by scoring four of the next five goals interrupted only by McKelvy notching the third of her four scores in the match.

            For veteran Upper Perkiomen water polo coach Brien Kalnoski, this fall's pandemic-affected season has a completely different feel from the past couple of years when Kalnoski's girls team captured a 2018 championship and the boys team advanced to the championship final. Last year, the boys made it to the semifinals of the Small School State Championship Tournament.

             But gone are the likes of Trevor Cairn, Zach Fetchen, Joe McGillen and Abigail Foreman. This year, Kalnoski is basically starting from scratch with nine boys and seven girls including key players such as Colin Henry, Nolan Henry, Kovalenko, McKelvy,  Darragh Martin and Kayman Heater.  Since water polo is played with seven players per team in the pool, depth is an obvious issue.

            "We have three freshman boys who are learning the game and doing well.  We have a sophomore girl starting for the first time in goal," Kalnoski stated.

            But the coach is embracing the challenge of rebuilding the program and navigating the uncharted waters of coaching during a pandemic.

          "My message and focus to my team was that we will get through it together," the seventh year coach stated, "and, as I preach to them all the time, we will figure it out to make it happen as best that we can."

          Kalnoski described the team as "playing to expectations based on our experience." 

            Prior to Tuesday's match the boys had played three times, defeating Exeter. Kalnoski was also pleased with the team's efforts against Wilson and LaSalle, but what the program is up against this year was evident in the loss to the Explorers.

            "LaSalle subbed an entire team against us in the second half and although my boys didn't have a lot of rest we held them to five goals in the second half."

            The teams have not seen as much time in the water as they would have by this time in the season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

            "We started 'pre-season' conditioning on Aug. 17 with dryland training until we were giving the go-ahead to use the pool.  We did get three days in at the YMCA outdoor pool before we moved to the indoor pool," Kalnoski said.

            With such small teams, the 25-person indoor practice restrictions are not a factor, but the same 25-person limit prevents family and friends from attending any of the contests.

            The games are streamed through Facebook Live. (Enter "Upper Perk High School Water Polo" into the Facebook search engine.) 


 

 

 

 

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