Playoff recap: Boys’ water polo beats Buena, advances to second round


Nikolai Haynes ‘20 swerves the opponent. Credit: Muriel Rowley / The Foothill Dragon Press

Nick Zoll

On Oct. 30, the Foothill varsity boys’ water polo team faced the Bulldogs of Buena High School in a home postseason game. The Ventura Aquatic Center played host to the two teams that were matched up in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Division V playoffs. With a second-round playoff berth at stake, the Dragons dashed the Bulldogs’ hopes at a deep postseason run with a 13-5 victory.

Eight different players scored for Foothill in the pivotal first-round matchup: Nikolai Haines ‘20 tallied three goals while Ian Canby ’19 and Ben Clinton ‘19 each scored twice. Zion Denzel ‘19, Liam Murphy ‘19, Devon Robb ‘20 and Drake Kennedy ‘20 pitched in with one goal apiece. The composition of these 13 goals helped Foothill’s season record improve to 17-6.



Notably, it was the third time in the 2018 season that the Dragons have beaten the Buena boys’ varsity water polo team. On Aug. 28, Foothill prevailed over the Bulldogs 6-5 and on Oct. 13. This game, however, was won by a more comfortable margin. According to Haines, “it feels great” to conclude the Bulldogs vs. Dragons trilogy with a perfect 3-0 record.

“We’ve had some tough games against them in the past, and this final game showed our growth,” he said. “In my opinion […] it shows how far we’ve progressed.”

The Dragons’ next challenge will come on Nov. 1 in the second round of the CIF Division V playoffs. They will travel to San Bernardino, CA, to face the Cowboys of Cajon High School (13-11), who advanced with a 10-8 win over Mission Viejo High School.



According to head coach David Wallace, the key to replicating the first round performance is having “the same energy, enthusiasm and confidence.”

Haines, meanwhile, is prepared to face “a much better team” in Cajon High School for the second round matchup.

“[Cajon has] also beaten Buena so we’re going to have to expect to play much harder than we had to for our first round game. We don’t have much [information] on how they play, but we’re going to have to bring it all,” he said. “It’s going to be a much different experience: I don’t know what their pool looks like, I don’t know their crowd, so we’re going to have to play in a new environment and just adapt to it.”

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