Kirkwood Water Polo Team Makes It To The Final Four

May 18, 2012
Entering the 2012 water polo season, Kirkwood High School Coach Rez Behnam thought he had his fifth Final Four squad. In the end, the Pioneers were a Final Four squad.

Kirkwood (16-11) placed fourth in the 2012 Missouri State Tournament on May 12 at the St. Peters Recreation Complex. The Pioneers lost a 15-14 decision to De Smet in the third-place match. In the semifinals, the Pioneers suffered a 17-6 loss to eventual state runner-up St. Louis University High School.

Kirkwood advanced to the Final Four with a 13-10 overtime victory over MICDS on May 9 at the St. Peters Rec Plex. Behnam said swimming 1,500 to 2,000 yards every day in practice paid huge dividends, especially in the win over MICDS. The other Final Four appearances came in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

"All the Final Four teams had spectacular players," Behnam said. "I remember the players on each team. I remember them very clearly."

In his final high school game, Kirkwood senior Zach Smith, who will take his talents to California Poly Tech, scored nine goals on 11 shots, despite being doubled teamed. Unfortunately, the Pioneers played much of the game without sophomore Geoffery Berger, who suffered a concussion in the first half, and senior David Niemann, who fouled out. Berger is an offensive specialist while Niemann headed the defense.

Other key players were seniors Zack Beuckman, Mason Coyle and Matt Dorsey, as well as juniors Andrew Philips, James Backman and Grant Lumley. The future is bright. Junior Grant Waldemer will be the goalie next year. Sophomores Nick Feltes, a junior varsity player who saw action over the weekend with the player losses, and Patrick Guilfoy will be key figures next year as will juniors Demi Brooks and Elise Tatros.

"They showed tremendous character in achieving short-term goals for the long-term journey," Behnam said.

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