Boys water polo triumphs in first CCS contest

Boys water polo triumphs in first CCS contest

Dickson Tsai

MVHS cruises past San Benito High School 14-9 to advance to the second round

For the first time in nine years, the Varsity boys water polo team played in their first round of the Central Coast Section Playoffs on Nov. 9. Once rolling, the boys were unstoppable.

The energetic Matador team scored the first 11 goals of the game en route to a 14-9 first-round victory over the San Benito High School Haybalers. Senior Alex Bagdasarian contributed six goals to carry the Matadors to 11-0 in the first half, while the aggressive defense shut off the Haybalers.

“Defense for us is huge,” head coach Ron Freeman said. “We base everything off of playing really good defense, takinJunior Peter Wells takes a shot at the goal after dodging multiple defenders. The varsity boys waterpolo team beat San Benito on Nov. 9 and will advance to play Serra High School for round two of CCS. Photo with permission from Ben Yang.  g the ball away, and getting down to the other end in a hurry.”

Goalie senior Andrew Sabour played a big role in firing up the Matador offense by making precise passes to his teammates on the other end of the pool, out of reach of the San Benito defenders that struggled to swim back in time. Within a span of two minutes late in the first quarter, MVHS was up 3-0.

The  Matadors were merciless during the second quarter, as they took shot after shot at the Haybaler cage. The Matadors easily overwhelmed the Haybalers by scoring eight more uncontested goals through a variety of long, short, underhand, backhand, and fast-break shots to amass the 11-0 halftime lead.

“We start out slow all the time,” San Benito head coach Tom Agan said. “It makes it kind of tough.”

After some halftime substitutions, San Benito looked like a completely different team. The Haybalers’ bench outmaneuvered MVHS’ second string, implementing the strategies that the Matadors had used in the first half to build the 11-0 lead.

“The first half was kind of like the beginning of our season where we didn’t have too much together,” San Benito senior Josh Schafer said. “The second half was more like the end of the season where we’re really strong, pulled our [act] together, and did really well.”

San Benito never gave up, cutting the margin to 12-6, but once the MVHS starters returned, the Matadors contained the furious Haybaler comeback and emerged victorious 14-9.

This is the boys’ first CCS appearance since 2001. Nine years ago, MVHS boys water polo reached the championships, only to lose to Bellarmine High School 15-2. This year, the team put together a 16-8 record and finished top of the De Anza League. Seeded fifth, water polo is poised to advance deep in the playoffs.

The Matadors play fourth-seeded Serra High School in the second round of the CCS Division I playoff. Serra comes off a first round bye after compiling a 14-11 record in the competitive West Catholic Athletic League.

“[Serra] is physically very strong, [and] they’re physically very aggressive,” Freeman said. “We’ve done okay against that type of team this year…It comes down to playing a very strong game, following our game plan and playing good defense.”

The next contest will take place on Nov. 13 at 11:30 on the MVHS pool deck.