LINCOLNSHIRE | Kevin Kuchta had the right motivational idea Friday.
Problem was, his Homewood-Flossmoor water polo team was not the U.S. hockey squad going up against the Soviets, in this case represented by Fenwick.
The Vikings watched the 2004 movie “Miracle” on the 60-mile bus ride to the Illinois state quarterfinals at Kuchta’s prompting. But the moral of the story couldn’t thwart the talent and execution Fenwick showed in knocking the Vikings out, 13-6, at the Stevenson High School.
Fenwick lead 5-0 after one period and 10-0 at the half. The tally went to 11-0 in the third before Kuchta scored the first of his four goals as Fenwick emptied its bench.
Everything went wrong for the Vikings in the first period.
Kuchta endured two ejections, so coach Tim Caldwell had to pull him from the water until period’s end.
“I’m not helping unless I’m there,” Kuchta said. “It affected the way I play (afterward). I couldn’t be as aggressive.”
“He’s 40 percent of our offense,” Caldwell said. “That was the very first thing in our game plan. He’s got to stay out of ejections. He gets so revved up.”
Kuchta said the Vikings suffered from nerves against Fenwick, which won eight straight state championships from 2004 to 2011.
“They’re a great team,” he said, adding they’re likely a favorite to win another title tonight.
Broc Thompson scored H-F’s other two goals in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, H-F had a miserable time with shots hitting the crossbars and posts. But after his final game as a Viking, Kuchta said there were positives to take from the rout.
“It’s a great experience just being here,” he said. “We’re real young, and got a lot of talent. In years to come, we’ll be a real force.”
Caldwell spent the immediate post-game period consoling his players, as a team and individually.
“I have nothing but good things to say about this team,” he said to the group.