By ANDREW KE
The Boys Water Polo team achieved a 31-5 victory against Irvine on March 10. The team has started off the season with three straight victories, and the win helped them retain the top seed in the Pacific Coast League.
“We are senior-heavy, and we have experience on our side. We have the ability to make middle-of-the-game adjustments,” coach Jesse Briggs said.
The team dominated the game with a balanced effort and strong team chemistry.
“Our team played better together on defense and offense than Irvine did. Honestly, it is hard to win by that amount in a water polo game, and we were just a lot stronger in all aspects of the game,” Briggs said.
Seniors Matt Wallin and Stewart Campbell led the team with 13 and 8 goals, respectively, but the entire team performed well in the win.
“Our top two left-handers carried the most goals with Stewart Campbell and Matt Wallin, but the contribution of our shut down 2-meter defense by [senior] Liam Horan, and front line attack from [junior] Victor Martin, [junior] Jaden Chen, and freshman standout Oleg Shatskikh completed the offense. We had a great game from our goalie [senior] Eli Wirth only allowing a small handful of goals past him. Then coming off the bench, we were strong with [sophomores] Josh Chen, Artem Zimin, and Joey Park,” Briggs said.
Wirth spearheaded the team’s defensive effort as the goalie with 9 saves, crediting the entire team for the defensive performance.
“My ability to prevent goals from being scored is highly reliant on the defensive ability of our field players. I am thankful that my teammates are working their hardest on the defensive end,” Wirth said.
Wallin believed that executing the fundamentals was the most important reason they won the game.
“The key to winning the game was knowing how to swim. Irvine really struggled with this aspect when we played them,” Wallin said.
The team also had some extra motivation because of their tough 8-6 loss to Irvine last year.
“Our team had something to prove due to a last-minute upset last year to Irvine High, and the boys wanted retribution that they have had in the back of their mind all year long,” Briggs said.
Martin credited the team’s rigorous preparation for the season as the key to their strong start.
“We have been training very hard, which has given us an advantage over our opponents,” Martin said.
Wirth claimed that the uncertainty of whether there would be a season caused the team to be more grateful and to take advantage of the situation.
“We have been put into a position this year where a season did not look likely, so when we heard that we were going to have an amended season, we have been very motivated to win,” Wirth said.
While the team is off to a fast start, they can still make improvements to continue their success.
“There are new rules to the game that we are having to learn and adapt to, so we are back at practice working on the new stuff and reviewing the old,” Briggs said.
The team’s next game is March 17 versus Woodbridge.