Water Polo: Matadors fall 9-10 to Palo Alto in overtime

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Water Polo: Matadors fall 9-10 to Palo Alto in overtime

Carissa Chan

Senior Cameron Yates passes the ball to a teammate during the Sept. 20 game against Palo Alto. Although the Matadors showed determination throughout the game, they were unable to hold off Palo Alto in overtime. Photo by Angela Wang.

It is the fourth and final period, and there are 45 seconds left in the game. The Matadors are up 9-8. All they have to do is hold Palo Alto and they will have a win. They are less than a minute away from victory.

But leads are hard to hold on to. And this time, Palo Alto netted a goal in the last 45 seconds, forcing the Matadors into overtime—and a loss.

After fighting through an intensely close game, varsity boys water polo (3-4) lost 9-10 in overtime on Sept. 20 against Palo Alto High School (5-1), whose team is well known for its aggressive playing style. MVHS junior Brendan Duffy was the leading scorer with six goals, but a late surge by MVHS could not be carried into overtime.

The Matadors fell behind 0-3 early in the game, unable to score any goals in the first period while allowing three by the Palo Alto players, whose quick transitions were difficult to defend. Palo Alto coach Giovanni Napolitano proved to be as aggressive as his team; he was yellow-carded within the first few minutes of the game and later received a stern warning from the referee but continued to reprimand his players, even after they scored goals.

In the second period, the Matadors were able to tack on a couple of goals with shots from junior Jed Drexler and senior Cameron Yates. But Palo Alto added two goals of their own, preserving their three-goal lead.

Down 2-5, the Matadors managed to regroup during a time out called by MVHS coach Ed Samuels near the end of the second period.

“He told us to step it up,” sophomore Colin Hong said. “And we did. That was the turning point.”

Samuels’ words seemed to ignite the Matadors’ offense, which could be seen in the third period. A goal from Hong, the first of the third period, sparked the comeback, and another MVHS goal scored by Duffy kept the team’s momentum going. After a scuffle for the ball between Duffy and the Palo Alto goalie, Duffy managed to outmaneuver the goalie and scored his second goal of the game, bringing the score to 5-6 and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Each goal by MVHS seemed to fuel their determination to win, as the Matadors managed to tie the score with yet another goal from Duffy after junior goalie Owen Hardee blocked a 5-meter penalty shot by a Palo Alto player. But Palo Alto proved that their offense had only been slowed, not stopped, when Palo Alto junior Quinn Rockwell, who had established himself as a major threat early on in the game, scored to help his team regain the lead.

After another time out called by Samuels, Duffy, determined to prevent Palo Alto from pulling too far ahead, scored a goal at the end of the third period, once again tying the game.

The intensity quickly picked up in the fourth period with the score tied. After several shots by both teams hit the crossbar, Duffy scored his sixth goal, giving the Matadors the lead for the first time in the game. With three minutes left, Samuels told his players to make “really safe passes” to prevent Palo Alto from getting extra opportunities to score in order to preserve the narrow lead. Hong then scored his second goal of the game, making the score 9-7, but Palo Alto retaliated with a shot that barely trickled inside the cage for a goal. The Matadors, still ahead by a single goal, fought to stay on top. But shutting down the Palo Alto offense proved to be too difficult for Monta Vista when Palo Alto sophomore Will Conner scored with a penalty shot from the 5-meter line in the last 45 seconds of the game, forcing the teams into overtime.

The Matadors came very close to scoring multiple times in the first two-minute overtime period, but Palo Alto was the first to score with a goal thirty seconds into overtime. Several of Monta Vista’s shots looked as though they would enter the goal, but they either hit the crossbar or were blocked the by the Palo Alto goalie. The overtime period came to an end with the Matadors down 9-10, but they still had two more minutes to score in the second overtime period.

The Matadors persevered for the entire two minutes, taking shots at the goal and keeping a solid defense, but they could not find a way to score. Palo Alto managed to maintain its one-goal lead, and the Matadors lost by a final score of 9-10.

“We stepped it up, but then we didn’t keep it up,” Hong said.

The loss was a tough one for the Matadors, who acknowledged that Palo Alto, with zero losses in league play, is a good team.

“But we thought we could beat them,” junior Jeffrey Lee said.

The Matadors will face Los Altos, another very strong team, on Sept. 22 at 6:45 pm at Los Altos High School for the third league game of the MVHS season.