Boys Water Polo: MVHS narrowly defeats Lynbrook HS 12-11

The Matadors outlast LHS to win their first league game of the season

Stuti Upadhyay, Kamyar Moradi

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A seven point lead for MVHS boys varsity water polo nearly ended in a tie against Lynbrook HS. Ultimately, the Matadors were able to pull off a narrow 12-11 victory.

Coming into the first league game of the season, senior and captain Samer Awad said the team was motivated and mentally prepared to play against Lynbrook HS. He explains that the team was confident they would win because of how well the team had worked together in the past few days of practice. The drills were smooth, the chemistry was strong and the effort was high, Awad said. 

This attitude was reflected by the score very quickly into the game. Two minutes after the starting whistle, the team was already ahead 2-0. The Matadors continued to maintain a strong press throughout the first quarter, with multiple goals from senior Alex Hau and captain Kelvin Lee bringing MVHS to a 5-1 lead. 

Sophomore Cullen Pow races after a loose ball against a Lynbrook HS defender. Photo by Kamyar Moradi

The Matadors continued their strong performance, outplaying LHS through the second quarter with strong offensive drives and powerful shots. Minutes before the second quarter ended, LHS began gaining strength on the counter, picking up several fouls and scoring two more goals before the quarter ended with a score 8-5. 

“At half time, I was feeling pretty happy,” Hau said. “We were up by so much, I was laughing with my friends and everything.”

Minutes into third quarter, goals form Hau and Ryan Tang brought MVHS up to 12-5. The game was going exactly the way the Matadors wanted it to. The team even decided to rest some of the starters and put in less experienced players. 

In contrast, junior Ishan Sahary from LHS explains that LHS was struggling to keep up and slow the Matador momentum. 

“I think the [MVHS] team has speed,” Saharoy said. “They have a really good offensive set and good outside shooters. Their defense was pretty constructive.”

As the third quarter closed, there were only seven minutes standing between the Matadors and victory. 

After starting the fourth quarter by winning the sprint to the ball, the Matadors turned over the ball after a poor pass. LHS picked it up, and it was 12-6. In the next few minutes, miscommunication in the MVHS team led to two MVHS turnovers and subsequent goals. The score was now 12-8.

With about five minutes left in the game, Coach Cory Murphy called a timeout. 

“The first thing that popped in my mind: Oh crap,” Murphy said. “The first thing I said [was], ‘You have to control the ball. Don’t give them any extra opportunities.’ That’s really all you can do.”

Coach Cody Murphy discusses strategy with his team during a timeout against Lynbrook HS. Photo by Stuti Upadhyay

Time was ticking away for the Lynbrook team; a long range shot from Lynbrook made the game 12-9; the MV players were feeling even more pressure to keep the lead. 

“Towards the end, I was like ‘Did I jinx it?’” Hau said. “I started to feel stressed, and I was panicking a little. The coach definitely played a big part in keeping us calm and telling us what to do.”

With less than three minutes left on the clock, the Matadors’ offensive drive lead to a shot from Awad, a shot that hit the post. LHS supporters were now dominating the crowd, yelling and cheering the team on from the bleachers. With one minute and three seconds left, a strong drive down the center of the pool made the score 12-11. The game that seemed like an easy victory for MVHS was now a fight until the last second. 

“I think we just need to communicate more and understand what plays we’re doing,” Saharoy said. “It took us our entire game to understand what we were doing and then we finally made a comeback because of it.”

With 11 seconds left in the game, LHS had possession of the ball. Coach Murphy called another time out. Despite the palpable stress and excitement from both parents and players, Murphy remained calm as he told the kids to spread the ball out, protect the goal and avoid picking up a foul that could cost them the game. 

As the game restarted, LHS drove down the field and took a shot on goal. The shot was blocked by goalie Jeffrey Leu.

“I was scared man — they had all the momentum,” Leu. “I just wanted to hold the lead. I wasn’t trying to play extra hard or anything, just wanted to hold the lead, come out with the win. That’s about it.”

Although LHS was visibly upset about losing the game, Saharoy was proud of the team for the comeback.

“It felt heartbreaking but it felt really good — it felt like a good game,” Saharoy said. “I hate games where it’s just a blowout in either direction.”

Saharoy explains that the game was a good learning moment for the LHS team, who now better understands how to adapt to a team like MVHS throughout the game. He also comments that this is something the Matadors can try to work on. 

Juniors Jeff Shen, Sumer Hajela and Kahaan Parikh celebrate a hard fought MVHS victory against Lynbrook HS. Photo by Justine Ha

“I think they need to be more flexible on defense, and understanding when the offense is changing, that they adapt to the change and they move as well,” Saharoy said. “What happened was, when we started changing our offense, they kept the same defense, and it didn’t work anymore for them.”

Coach Murphy comments that close games like this teach the team about how to close out a game. Especially when most of the players are playing on varsity for the first time, performance will likely increase with time Murphy explains. 

“Inexperience, that’s why these games right now are close,” Murphy said. “It’s good to have these so we can gain that experience, not do this again and not blow a fourth quarter lead.”