Water Polo: Matadors end tournament with a win and a loss

Junior+Dmitriy+Evert+tries+to+score+in+the+game+against+Mountain+View+but+can%E2%80%99t+find+a+hole+in+the+defense.+Photo+by+Carissa+Chan.
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Water Polo: Matadors end tournament with a win and a loss

Junior Dmitriy Evert tries to score in the game against Mountain View but can’t find a hole in the defense. Photo by Carissa Chan.

Junior Dmitriy Evert tries to score in the game against Mountain View but can’t find a hole in the defense. Photo by Carissa Chan.

Junior Dmitriy Evert tries to score in the game against Mountain View but can’t find a hole in the defense. Photo by Carissa Chan.

Junior Dmitriy Evert tries to score in the game against Mountain View but can’t find a hole in the defense. Photo by Carissa Chan.

Carissa Chan

Junior Dmitriy Evert tries to score in the game against Mountain View but can’t find a hole in the defense. Photo by Carissa Chan.

On Sept. 10, the final day of the annual John Schmitt tournament, the varsity boys water polo team played two more games, one against Mountain View and the other against Valley Christian. The Matadors picked up one loss and one win to bring their season record to 3-2.

Game 1: Monta Vista (2-1) vs. Mountain View Spartans

The Matadors lost against Mountain View High School in a fast-paced and closely contested game for their first match-up of the day, finishing with a final score of 11-12.

Both teams played aggressively from the start. Mountain View was able to score first, but the Matadors responded with goals of their own, taking a 2-1 lead in the middle of the first period. Stellar defense by both schools kept the score low, but Mountain View managed to score a couple more goals, bringing the score to 2-3 with the Matadors down.

Mountain View was able to pull ahead during the second period, gaining opportunities to score on MVHS fouls while maintaining a solid defense. But the Matadors capitalized on a major foul committed by a Mountain View player on junior Brendan Duffy when senior Cameron Yates scored on a penalty shot from the five-meter mark at the end of the second period, making the score 4-7.

Going into the third period three goals down, the Matadors stepped up their offense. Because of the pressure, players on both teams rushed their shots and hit the crossbar several times, but Duffy finally scored with a direct shot at the cage.

But in what the Matadors viewed as an extremely unfair ruling, the scorekeepers, high school students who had already made other mistakes—the referees had to stop the game several times to remind them to reset the shot clock—did not record Duffy’s goal. They claimed that they had accidentally given MVHS an extra goal in the beginning of the game and thus needed to ignore the recently scored goal. Despite appeals to the referees to overturn the ruling, the scorekeepers’ decision remained unchanged. Parents and friends of MVHS players reacted with anger, constantly yelling for the scorekeepers to “fix the score!”

Unable to reclaim the goal they had already scored, the Matadors pushed through the rest of the third period, determined not to fall far behind Mountain View. Junior Jed Drexler sparked a rally by scoring two consecutive goals, bringing the Matadors to a score of 6-9.

The Matadors entered the fourth period intending to score as much as possible in the final seven minutes of the game. But after sophomore Colin Hong scored, Mountain View added a few more goals, and both teams began to feel the pressure of playing at such a close margin. Drexler scored his third goal of the game, and a long passing sequence ended in Yates flipping the ball into the cage, bringing the Matadors another goal closer to catching up to Mountain View.

Both coaches used time outs to calm their players down, trying to relieve some of the tension that was evident both in and out of the pool. The tension channeled into aggression, making it difficult for either team to score. The Matadors’ last chance to tie the game came with 14 seconds left, but Yates’ backhand flip just barely missed the cage by a few inches. The scoring error proved to be the deciding factor of the game, as the Matadors lost by a final score of 11-12.

The loss was especially frustrating for MVHS because they felt that a careless scoring mistake decided the outcome of the entire game.

“It was a game changer,” said Duffy, who scored two goals, one of which was not counted. “We would have tied otherwise.”

Game 2: Monta Vista (2-2) vs. Valley Christian

The Matadors edged out a win over Valley Christian High School on Saturday, Sept. 10, finishing with the score of 7-4 for their last game of the three-day John Schmitt Memorial Tournament.

The Matadors started strong with a goal by sophomore Colin Hong within the first ten seconds of the game. Solid defense by all the MVHS players, along with consistent blocks by junior goalie Owen Hardee, prevented Valley Christian from scoring at all in the first period. But the Valley Christian goalie protected the cage effectively as well, limiting the Matadors to one goal until senior Cameron Yates successfully scored on a five-meter penalty shot.

Entering the second period with a 2-0 lead, the MVHS defense began to weaken, allowing Valley Christian to score a few goals. The Matadors watched their lead diminish until senior Cameron Yates took action, throwing the ball into the unprotected Valley Christian cage for a goal and then making a quick pass to junior Brendan Duffy that resulted in another goal, putting MVHS ahead 4-3.

Still in a very tight game, MVHS head coach Ed Samuels emphasized the importance of not committing fouls against Valley Christian in order to maintain the one-goal lead. The Matadors’ defense became impenetrable again, not letting Valley Christian score a single goal, and quick thinking by Duffy allowed him to push the ball into the goal for another MVHS goal to increase the lead to two goals in the third period.

Samuels urged his players to remain patient and make good passes in order to provide as much buffer room as possible. This proved to be an effective approach, as Yates was able to score after multiple passes between players. A key block by junior goalie Owen Hardee preserved the three-goal lead for a while until Valley Christian scored, so Samuels told the Matadors to defend more aggressively by pressing.

Duffy later had possession of the ball near the Valley Christian cage, and as the goalie lunged towards him, Duffy tossed the ball over the goalie and into the cage, bringing the Matadors’ lead back to three goals and relieving some of the anxiety that the MVHS players were feeling.

“Usually, you want a three-point lead,” junior Aditya Iyer said. “It’s significant enough, so we strove to keep the lead at three [after Duffy’s goal].”

The Matadors won by a final score of 7-4, finishing the tournament with a total of three wins and two losses.