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Boys’ water polo team loses first home game to Nordhoff (22 photos)

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Boys’ water polo team loses first home game to Nordhoff (22 photos)

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Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Foothill senior James Florez throwing the water polo ball while a Nordhoff player tries to block him. Foothill lost with a final score of 5-14, October 3, 2014. Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

[dropcap size=dropcap]T[/dropcap]emperatures came close to record highs as Foothill’s boys’ water polo team played their first-ever league home game at the Ventura Aquatic Center against Nordhoff High School on Friday. They were defeated with a final score of 14-5.

The temperature reached a sweltering 97 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon. 

Foothill senior and goalie Paul Byrne lifting his arms to block a shot from Nordhoff, October 4, 2014. Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Foothill senior and goalie Paul Byrne lifting his arms to block a shot from Nordhoff, October 4, 2014. Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

The team got off to a strong start as Foothill’s goalie, senior Paul Byrne, blocked a shot from half court in the very first play. With five minutes, 11 seconds left in the seven-minute quarter, freshman Andres Coppa scored the first point of the game. Nordhoff soon answered with a goal of their own. Two more goals, including one scored with less than three seconds left on the clock, put Nordhoff ahead 3-1 by the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Nordhoff scored two more points in the first minute of play. Sophomore Kevin Waechter retaliated with a goal, assisted by sophomore Niko Ford, with five minutes and 19 seconds left in the quarter. Senior Simon Christie scored the final point of the half on a “six on five,” or power play, assisted by Waechter. At halftime, the score was 5-3, with Nordhoff leading by two points.

In the first 18 seconds of the third quarter, Nordhoff scored their sixth goal. They scored twice more with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. Coppa scored Foothill’s fourth goal of the game, with three minutes and five seconds left in the quarter. Nordhoff scored 16 seconds later, but senior Colin Brown drew a five-meter penalty shot and scored with 13 seconds left in the second to last quarter. The score at the end of the third quarter was 5-9, in Nordhoff’s favor.

In the final quarter, Nordhoff scored five more goals against Foothill. Foothill had the last play of the game, a six on five, but did not score. The game ended with a Nordhoff victory and a final score of 5-14.

Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Coach David Wallace talking to the team during one of their breaks. Wallace said that the team has a few things to improve on, specifically defense, October 3, 2014. Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Though disappointed by the loss, senior and field player Colin Brown looks forward to improving as a team and playing “smarter” water polo.

“I feel like we [Foothill] played pretty well for our first game in league. We slipped up on a few of our defensive positions,” said Brown. “We need to stay on our men and keep focused.”

In spite of the defeat, Brown is looking forward to playing Nordhoff again on October 22, and hopes that his team can improve enough to defeat them.

 

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Core Athletics Program teacher Anthony Unchangco supported the boys’ water polo team for their first home game, and hopes to see them improve by working hard.

“I came in the second half of the varsity game, so you could already see that they were trying to get out of a hole they were in, and you could see their frustrations as they were playing,” said Unchangco.

“This was just the first league match, so I think once the first-time water polo players ‘get their feet wet,’ so to speak, they’ll figure out how to get out of a hole like that.”

Coach David Wallace believes the team has some things to work on, which can help them “get out of a hole.”

“We’ve got work on what’s called ‘extra-stroke defense,’ and then we need to work on our counter-attack passing,” said Wallace.

In addition, Coach Wallace looks forward to having the players affected by the 30-day CIF sit-out period play for the team.

“Hopefully we get our sit-out athletes back, which will make a big difference,” said Wallace.

“The big thing is that we’re really looking forward to getting [junior] Mitchell Caldwell, [senior] Spencer Nichols, [junior] Spencer Wittrock and [sophomore] Parker Harris. We are looking forward to getting those guys back and they’ll make us a better team, more competitive, and give us more depth.”

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Athletics Director Emily Stevens also attended the game, and was impressed by how the brand-new Foothill team played against the long-established Nordhoff water polo team. She also enjoyed watching the game itself.

“I think it’s really fun to watch how quick the game is, and all the transitions,” said Stevens. “It’s very exciting, there’s not a dull moment.”

Foothill goalie and senior Paul Byrne looks forward to a “fun” game against Malibu High School on October 29, given time to practice and improve as a team.

“I think that what we really need is a lot of practice, because practice makes perfect, and it’s only going to help us,” said Byrne.

Even with the defeat, Wallace enjoys seeing the competitiveness and watching his players develop as a team.

“Today we were competitive and I really appreciate the guys working really hard,” said Wallace. “That’s the main goal, to make Foothill a competitive program, every game.”

Background Photo Credit: Austin Hunt/The Foothill Dragon Press

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Boys’ water polo team loses first home game to Nordhoff (22 photos)