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Sports

Boys Water Polo: Making a Splash

Victor Perez named Illinois Player of the Year – the first in Lyons Township's program history

Victor Perez added a chapter to Lyons Township's storied water polo history recently, as the rising senior was named the Illinois boys water polo Player of the Year.
Victor Perez added a chapter to Lyons Township's storied water polo history recently, as the rising senior was named the Illinois boys water polo Player of the Year.

The success of Lyons Township rising senior Victor Perez as a water polo player comes from a strong family anchor.

During the summer of 2015, Maggie Perez made a bold move when the single mother relocated her family to Brookfield. The move paved the way for Perez to attend LT.

“I love it at LT. It’s the greatest experience of my life so far,” Perez said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay her. She’s always at my games, regardless. She’s my No. 1 fan.”

This past season, Perez added to the Lions’ storied history by being named their first Illinois boys water polo Player of the Year. Recently graduated goalie Cameron Cowan was first-team all-state and among the top five in Player of the Year voting and will play at NCAA Division I Pacific. Recently graduated Frank McCarter was fourth team.

“Being the first LT player to get this honor just means a lot. There’s been so many good players to come out of LT, too many to name,” Perez said.

A 2-meter center and third-year varsity starter, Perez had 116 goals and 31 assists for the Lions (30-4), who finished third in their program-best fourth consecutive trip to the eight-team state tournament.

Perez’s offensive prowess also caused 77 opponent ejections, creating player advantages similar to power plays in hockey.

“There’s a lot of other great players in the state this year. It shows how much the other teams respect the way he plays and how talented he is,” LT coach Doug Eichstaedt said. “Every year [Perez] just keeps getting better. He’s team first and super competitive and is just a really tough player for anyone to try and match up with. He works hard at practice and pushes everybody to get better. He just plays the game the right way.”

The Lions were the only team to beat state champion Naperville Central (34-1) – 6-4 at the Stevenson Invite April 28. But they lost in the state semifinals to Fenwick 5-4 in overtime after beating the Friars all three meetings during the regular season. LT beat Conant 12-8 for third.

Eichstaedt informed Perez of his award two days later.

“I was still a little down from the semifinal loss. Just not anything made up for the loss, but [the honor] made me feel a lot better,” Perez said. “Overall, it was a really good season. We’re pretty happy with third place. We thought we should have been in the state finals. It just shows a lot for our team and how we grinded it out the entire season.”

Eichstaedt was familiar with Perez before high school from his club play with his Chicago Park District team. Perez still plays club with the CPD as well as a Harrison Park men’s masters team during the winter boys swimming season.

“[I’ll swim] 3:30 to 6:30 and right after that my mom picks me up to go to Harrison Park,” Perez said. “I’m just a well-rounded player now. Overall, I’d say my defense and IQ for the game have improved a lot since I came to LT.”

With 228 goals and 95 assists for his career, Perez already ranks among LT’s all-time leaders. In 2017, Cowan was second-team all-state and Perez (71 goals, 48 assists) third team. Both were all-sectional this season with McCarter and graduated Max Zator on the second team and graduated John Reilly and incoming junior Bobby Bolan honorable mention. Sebastian Perez, Victor’s brother, started as a freshman.

“The thing I’m most proud of [this season]? Being able to help my teammates at practice and become better players overall, help their [sport] IQ,” Victor Perez said.

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