Water Polo: Mountain View hard to keep up with in 6-8 loss

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Carissa Chan

Sophomore Colin Hong looks for a teammate to pass to in the second period. The Matadors eventually lost the game against Mountain View by a final score of 6-8. Photo by Carissa Chan.

The varsity boys water polo team entered the Oct. 6 game looking to finally pick up a win against Mountain View High School, but took a loss instead as they fell 6-8 to the Spartans. After already losing two consecutive games against Mountain View this season, the Matadors tried to push ahead in the game, but they were ultimately outplayed in a disappointing loss for the team.

Mountain View struck first with a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game, but junior Jed Drexler quickly pushed the ball into the Spartans’ cage to tie the score at one goal each, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Matadors’ defense started out strong, but the Mountain View goalie, senior Oleg Koujikov, blocked several strong shots by juniors Brendan Duffy and Alan Yap as well, preventing the Matadors from pulling ahead. The Spartans found a hole in the MVHS defense later in the first period, managing to score a goals, but sophomore Colin Hong scored with a direct shot at the cage that brushed past the Mountain View goalie’s fingers, tying the score at 2-2.

The Spartans soon regained the lead, scoring a goal early in the second period. Almost all shots were consistently blocked by both Koujikov and MVHS junior goalie Owen Hardee, but Mountain View was able to net another goal near the end of the second period, extending their lead to two goals at a score of 2-4, Matadors down. The game had developed into a match-up between the two goalies, and fans from the crowd cheered each time their respective goalie make a block—in such a low-scoring game, preventing goals was crucial to each team’s success.

After the halftime, both crowds became more involved, starting chants and using air horns to cheer the teams on. Only down by two goals, the Matadors struggled to put themselves on top during the third period, but Koujikov consistently blocked all shots that came near the cage, and some other shots by the Matadors missed the cage completely. Duffy was finally able to score on a hard shot to the right of Koujikov, putting the Matadors within a single goal of tying with the score at 3-4.

After the Spartans retaliated with their own goal, Duffy responded with his second of the game less than 40 seconds after his first one. But Mountain View took advantage of a gap that had opened in the Matadors’ defense and gave themselves a two-goal lead once again. Duffy, now the center of the MVHS crowd’s attention, hit the crossbar with his shot, and after a brief scuffle between three players, the ball went underwater. The referees ruled it a penalty on the defensive side, saying that a Mountain View player had pushed the ball under, igniting an angry response Mountain View fans who argued that the call was inaccurate and unfair. While the referees’ ruling was upheld, senior Cameron Yates’ shot from the five-meter line was promptly blocked by Koujikov. With the score at 4-6, Matadors behind, tensions between the coaches and members of the crowds rose, which resulted in several spiteful exchanges of words.

Entering the final period two goals behind, the Matadors attempted to tie the score but Yates’ shot was blocked again and Duffy’s shot barely missed the cage. After Mountain View scored another goal, giving them a relatively secure three-goal lead, Drexler suddenly scored with a shot that Koujikov could not even get his hands on. Drexler’s goal, which came at a crucial time for the Matadors, earned him praise from both his teammates and the coaches.

To the delight of the Mountain View crowd, Koujikov continued to block many of the Matadors’ shots until the Matadors worked in a goal to bring the score to 6-7. Duffy had a chance to score, but his shot missed the cage by a few inches again, and the Spartans netted a goal with 45 seconds left, putting them two goals over the Matadors. With less than 40 seconds now left in the game, Mountain View used up time by aimlessly passing the ball until the shot clock expired and the ball turned over, and it was too difficult for the Matadors to score in the remaining five seconds. The Matadors lost by a final score of 6-8.

“We took some smart shots, but we didn’t put them where they needed to be,” Duffy said. “We need to win these kinds of games… [Mountain View] is good, but on any given day, one team can be better than any other.”

The Matadors’ next game will be at and against Palo Alto high school on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 6:45 pm.