In what was undoubtedly the team’s biggest win all season, boys water polo defeated rival Mountain View High School (MVHS) 11-9 yesterday to win the SCVAL championship tournament.
As the team filed onto the Homestead High School pool deck, players and fans alike knew that stakes were high for the Eagles. In its last two matchups against MVHS—games Los Altos had expected to win—the Eagles had fallen by razor-thin margins: the scores of game one and two were 12-8 and 10-9, respectively. The Eagles had to come up with something big in order to get the win—and last night, players didn’t disappoint.
The team came out hard in the first quarter, riding on multiple MVHS kick-outs to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Three of the teams’ first quarter goals came during six-on-five opportunities.
“We came out with fire,” Captain senior Ian McColl said. “The first quarter, we were so excited to come out and play them that we completely overrode them. “
In the second quarter, MVHS gained back some of the ground it had lost, putting three in the back of the net. However, a highlight-reel worthy backhand by junior Sam Lisbonne kept the Eagles in the lead, and the half ended with a score of 5-4.
“There was never really a point when the momentum shifted their way,” Ian said. “Even when they got within one goal, we would come back and we would score.”
Los Altos kept its lead throughout the third quarter, and Ian put away a buzzer-beater in the final seconds of the quarter to give the Eagles a three-goal lead.
Los Altos kept control as it headed into the fourth quarter. Goals from senior Paul Bergevin and Ian kept up the Eagles’ solid lead, and as the quarter winded down, Los Altos’ 10-7 lead made victory seem imminent.
With three minutes left to play though, MVHS began to mount a last-minute comeback. The team scored a six-on-five goal to put the score at 10-8, and after forcing a turnover, laid up a point-blank shot to narrow its deficit to one. With a minute left to play and the score at 10-9, it looked as if the Spartans might come back to take the title in the closing seconds of the game.
However, the Eagles wouldn’t have it, and the team shut down the Spartan’s attempt at a victory. After working the ball around the perimeter and killing time, Ian lasered a shot to seal the Eagles’ 11-9 victory.
“The difference in that game was the way that we approached it,” Ian said. “In the first two games, we felt that we were the better team, but they beat us because they came out with fire…This time, it was the opposite. We came out, and from the get-go, I felt like we wanted it so much more than they did.”
LAHS-MVHS matchups have a history of physical play—blood has been spilt in several past matchups—and this game had the same physical nature that’s become standard in the rivalry. As a result of the huge number of kickouts, the game was won and lost on six-on-five opportunities.
In addition, MVHS faced an offensive loss in the form of senior Michael McGee, who accumulated two majors early in the game. Midway through the first quarter, MVHS was forced to pull McGee to avoid an early ejection. McGee scorched the Eagles for five goals in the teams’ first matchup, and his lost presence visibly impacted MVHS’ offensive production throughout the first half.
The victory will give the team a top seed as it heads into the CCS tournament. After reaching the CCS Finals last year, it will have to contend with high expectations and powerhouse teams such as Sacred Heart Preparatory and Bellarmine Preparatory in order to take the title. With this win under their belt though, the Eagles can move into CCS with confidence.
This article was corrected on Wednesday, November 28. The article incorrectly stated that LAHS won the league championship title. LAHS won the championship tournament but did not win the title; the title belongs to MVHS.