Boys water polo lost 7-19 today, November 17, to Sacred Heart College Preparatory. The Eagles came into their second straight CCS championship game with high hopes, but knew that competition against Sacred Heart would be tough. Sacred Heart has won the CCS title for the last seven years in a row.
“I think we let the stage affect us too much,” senior Mark Schreiber said. “Our emotions were high and we let outside factors get into our heads.”
Through the first minutes of the first quarter, both teams were scoreless. Players on both sides tried to find open looks by moving the ball around, but neither defense let up anything. Los Altos seemed hesitant to shoot the ball at first, trying to let Sacred Heart’s defense make the first mistake. The first goal came with 3:36 left in the first quarter as the Sacred Heart Gators took a long shot that skipped by the reach of goalie senior Cameron Putnam.
On the next possession the Eagles tried to move the ball in close to junior Ryan Seltzer, but Sacred Heart swarmed with speed to get the stop. This was telling of Sacred Heart’s speed and acceleration, which would allow the team to take control of the game. The Gators used their speed in the water to take victory over the Eagles.
“They were unbelievably fast,” Mark said.
For the rest of the quarter, Sacred Heart used the fast break to score.
“We had no answer for their transition game,” Mark said.
The Eagles were able to score off a shot to lower left of the net by Ryan off a quick pass from senior Paul Bergevin. The first quarter ended 3-1 in favor of Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart came out roaring in the second quarter, making a goal within the first two minutes as Los Altos found itself on its heels. A defining moment came as Cameron Putnam got in an altercation with a Sacred Heart attacker. Putnam was ejected from the game and was taken out for the rest of the match. Senior Afsheen Khosraviani stepped up to tend the goal.
The play did result in a penalty shot, and it seemed to be the tipping point for Los Altos. Mark responded with a fierce goal in front of the net as he poked a lose ball into the net, but the shot wasn’t enough to stop the Sacred Heart onslaught. The quarter ended with the Gators taking a 11-3 lead.
The start of the third quarter looked hopeful as Los Altos scored early off an offensive rebound. Paul quickly grabbed a missed shot and made a quick give-and-go with senior Drew Lytle. Paul finished off the shot with power to get his first goal of the game.
The Eagles struggled for the rest of the quarter against the rock-solid defense of Sacred Heart. The strong defense lead to quick fast breaks as Los Altos found itself doing wind sprints across the pool in order to keep up. The Eagles found themselves losing track of the ball, defending the man without the ball, and just plain out hustled as the Gators ended the quarter 16-4.
The last quarter became slow as Sacred Heart put in many players off the bench. Both teams went back and forth as Los Altos scored its highest total of three goals in the quarter. However, Sacred Heart responded to every goal scoring three of its own. The game ended as senior Anthony Bello fired a shot off the post with less than a second left on the clock.
The Eagles fought hard throughout the game, but couldn’t match the play of powerhouse Sacred Heart.
The loss comes hard to squad full of seniors (eleven of the twenty players are seniors). The team battled all year, but could not stop Sacred Heart’s unbelievable play.
“I dreamed about playing in that game since I was a freshman,” Mark said. “It was my last high school experience and I just wanted to put everything I had into the game.”
The team had fought all year, losing to Mountain View twice but defeating them in the league games to clinch the CCS berth. Hard nose play was the motto of this team as they adopted the “War Eagle” phrase to adopt the mindset of going to war each game.
Juniors, sophomores and the talented freshmen that take the varsity stage next year will face high expectations. Over the past few years, Los Altos has emerged as a powerhouse. Many frosh/soph players were called up for the tournament as Los Altos sported a massive roster, giving many upcoming players the taste of a CCS final.
Los Altos’ season started slow, but the team came together for the playoff push. Though the team may have had a loss today, the successful overall season showed what can be done when a team fights hard from start to finish.
[Photos by Ciera Pasturel]