The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Water Polo team treads through unique season

Matthew Malloy ‘25
MC Water Polo overcame adversity this season and played hard until their final game against St. Ignatius on Saturday, May 4th.

Mount Carmel’s water polo program started a long tradition of athletic success by winning the school’s first state championship back in 1975. Almost fifty years later, the team might not be winning any rings, but they’re still playing hard, facing many challenges that come their way, and putting up a fight against elite programs.

Led by Head Coach Mrs. Margaret Joyce and Assistant Coach Mr. David McGovern, the team earned a 5-15 record this past season. While this may not seem impressive at a first glance, the fact that there was even a team to play twenty games was something that worried a few players at the beginning of the season.

While most schools in Illinois have around fourteen players on their varsity roster, MC was struggling to even get the seven required to be in the pool at one time.  

“We had five kids before the season started,” said junior Kaleb McCluer. “It was pretty difficult, but after a lot of asking and persuading, I was able to get some more kids to try out. Eventually a team just formed together.”

After enough kids signed up to play, the team faced adversity yet again when they weren’t sure who would be their head coach. 

“I helped out with the team last year,” said Coach Joyce. “When I saw there was an opening, I mentioned that I’d be interested, but things weren’t finalized until right at the beginning of the season. I’m glad that things were just able to work out.”

Even though Coach Joyce became the head coach right at the start of the  season, the team was still able to come together and prepare themselves for the following weeks of practices and games. 

“We didn’t really know who our head coach was at the first few practices,” said McCluer. “I’m glad Mrs. Joyce and Mr. McGovern stepped in. They did really well, and I’m happy we were even able to have a full roster with some coaches.”

Now that the team had a coaching staff and enough players to put in the water for games, they were ready to play. 

Things didn’t start off great as they lost their first eleven games and didn’t get their first win until they beat Stagg 13-9 on April 13th. While that losing streak may have tarnished the team’s ranking, it didn’t seem to harm the spirits of coaches and players. 

“We started really slow because we didn’t have much of a bench,” said Coach McGovern. “I noticed though that the more we played and developed, the more and more top tier teams that we played against said they were shocked or impressed at how well we did.”

After a rough start at 1-11, the team was able to pull off a one point victory against the Kenwood Broncos, and then had their eyes set on the Wolfpack from St. Ignatius. 

Coach Joyce and her team knew that they would have an upper hand in the rivalry matchup, because it would be a home game at the pool in MC. Due to there being four lanes in the MC pool, (which is quite smaller than an average one used for water polo games) only five players would be in at one time instead of the usual seven. 

Unlike most high school swimming pools, Mount Carmel’s requires water polo teams to only have five kids in the water at one time instead of the usual seven. (Matthew Malloy ‘25)

With this in mind, the team went into the game with their usual charismatic, up-beat attitude and just wanted to have fun. After all, there was really nothing to lose after starting the season with eleven losses. 

It was an extremely close game with both teams exchanging goals every so often. 

“We kept tying it back up and eventually found ourselves in double overtime,” said Coach Joyce. “After that we went to a final shootout, and whoever scored next would win.”

Players from both teams were exhausted from playing for so long, but it was McCluer who found the energy to get into position and score. 

“To be honest, I was just having fun out there,” he said. “That’s how the guys and I approach every match. I took a lot of shots that game, and one of them ended up getting us the win.”

The Caravan won 22-21, and this was their first and only conference win of the season. Seeing as there were concerns before the start of the season about whether or not there would even be a team to go up against programs like St. Ignatius, the guys were extremely proud of their win. 

“That game taught us that we don’t really need expensive or brand new facilities or equipment to win or find success,” said junior Quincy Poole. “You already know I’m excited to play those guys in our pool again next year.”

Coming off this huge Chicago Catholic League win, the team carried on and won two more games against University High School and the Latin School of Chicago. 

Unfortunately, their winning streak came to an end when they lost to Andrew and Lincoln Way West. This capped off the regular season, but the playoffs were right around the corner. 

Wouldn’t you know it, the team’s next game would be against St. Ignatius. They wouldn’t be playing at home this time around, though. The Caravan put up a good fight, but the Wolfpack came out victorious this time, ending MC’s season and hopes of a playoff run.  

“I wish we could’ve pulled off another win against them,” said senior Phil Glynn. “When we beat them the first time, though, it was still really fun. This whole season has been fun, too. I really like the attitude we had going into every game.”

While the MC community might have to wait a while for the water polo program to get a second state championship, they can still go watch and support the optimistic crew that will return for next year. 

“All I know is that we’re going to find a way to play, and have as much fun as we can doing it,” said McCluer.


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About the Contributor
Matthew Malloy ‘25
Matthew Malloy ‘25, Staff Writer
Matthew Malloy is a junior at Mount Carmel High School. He resides in the Southside of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood and attended St. John Fisher Elementary School. Matt is currently a member of the student council, The Merchant, varsity golf team, varsity volleyball team, and the Caravan Media Group in which he is the play by play announcer for all home football and basketball games. As for academics, Matt is in the top 10 for the class of 2025. He first gained interest for journalism by watching ESPN’s College GameDay and reading The Beverly Review. His favorite sports commentators are Dick Vitale, Gus Johnson, Ray Clay, and Jim Nantz. As for favorite sports teams, Matt likes the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Manchester United F.C., Chicago Bears, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and his favorite golfers are John Daly, Bryson DeChambeau, and Collin Morikawa. His favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his favorite album is The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Matt’s favorite movies are Goodfellas and Asteroid City while The Office, Freaks and Geeks, and Friday Night Lights are his favorite TV shows. He and his cousins are continuing the tradition and legacy of the O’Connor family at Mount Carmel as he is the nephew of Dan O’Connor ‘95 and grandson of Frank O’Connor ‘61 and Kathy O’Connor, who works in the spirit store and is an avid supporter of Mount Carmel.