Falcons Water Polo Soars Past Clairemont

The varsity boys water polo team (9-1) defeated the Clairemont High School Chieftains (5-3) 16-10 in a rousing match on Sept. 9. 

Starting off the game on a positive note, Falcon Jack Mason (10) secured the ball in the sprint. After a turnover to Clairemont countered by a quick steal by the Falcons, Santi Gonzalez (11) scored the first goal of the game off an assist from Mason. Gonzalez dominated with four total goals throughout the game, but he attributes his success to the collaborative set-ups made by his teammates. 

“The team played well today,” he said. “I think over the season we have learned how to communicate and work together in the pool.”

Next, team captain Drew Smith (12) scored, bringing the Falcons to a 2-0 lead. After the game, Smith noted the bittersweet feeling accompanying his last season with the team.

“Water polo has taught me important lessons like discipline,” he said. “It keeps me in shape and I have made great friends on this team.”

ON THE ATTACK: August Mason reaches for the ball to attempt a shot. Mason is in his final year on the TPHS water polo team.

Clairemont scored after a failed block by goalie Brixton Miller (10). The Falcons rebounded quickly though, with an impressive, out-of-the-water shot by Gonzalez. Logan Hershey (12) extended TP’s lead to 4-1, and the Falcons widened the gap even further with a crafty skip-shot goal by Gonzalez. With less than two minutes of the first quarter left, Hershey was ejected on the offensive side, awarding Clairemont with a five-meter penalty throw which they made. The first quarter ended with the Falcons in a 6-2 lead after an assist from August Mason (12) and goal by Jo Yamashita (11).

Yamashita is a new foreign exchange student at TPHS this year hailing from Japan. Not only are his kind spirit and grit appreciated by his teammates, but he has also proved to be an asset in the pool. His speed and precise technique in the water helped him immensely throughout the game. 

“I love the Torrey Pines water polo team because they make me feel included,” he said. “I want to try my best to contribute to the team.”

The second quarter also proved successful for the Falcons, who put up six total goals. Jacob Press (12), also new to TP this year, scored two of them including a stellar backhand throw. The second quarter ended with the Falcons leading 12-5. 

Energy seemed to be sputtering on both sides, with no goals in the first half of the third quarter. The energy began to ramp up, however, as goalie Brixton blocked a Clairemont throw with a soaring head-shot. Still, only four total goals were made in the third quarter: one by Clairemont, and three by TP, making the score 15-6.

Despite a substantial lead, the Falcons began to lose ground in the fourth quarter. A smattering of ejections opened up opportunities for Clairemont to score four times in a row, closing the gap to 15-10. According to August Mason, the team’s deficiency in the fourth quarter stemmed from some biased calls by the refs.

“Clairemont bettered us in the fourth quarter because we were upset,” August Mason said. “It was hard to keep our cool with the refs favoring the other team.”

Tensions rose between opposing players in the pool as well. 

“The game was really aggressive,” Press said. “I actually had a guy on the other team call me an [anti-gay] slur.”

However, head coach Brandon Carman felt the team stayed sufficiently calm enough to secure the win.

“I am proud of the team for how they behaved in the pool,” he said. “They started to play a little too crazy at the end, but they did not make any terrible mistakes.”

The Falcons ended the fourth quarter on a high note with a goal by Hayden Sykes (10) in the last seconds of the game. Even through adversity, the Falcons pulled out a 16-10 victory. 

As the water polo team continues their season, they have their sights set on winning CIFs. 

“We definitely want to win D1 CIFs or place in the top four in the Open Division,” Press said. 

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