Photos by Thomas Forman
Boys’ water polo overpowered the San Marino Titans in a hard-fought, impressive 7-4 victory on Tuesday, October 17. The matchup was characterized by momentum changes in the first three periods, but the Tigers managed to pull away in the fourth quarter. Catapulted by their second win over the Titans, South Pas is in a prime position to compete for a Rio Hondo League title and CIF berth with a 5-1 league record.
San Marino quieted the avid South Pas crowd with its first possession, throwing a strike to the right side of the net for an early lead. After a promising opportunity for South Pas in transition, freshman Eddie Lane-Flanigan took advantage of San Marino’s conservative defense, striding forward and planting a rocket in the right section of the goal. The Titans regained the lead off a shot that hit the left post before deflecting off the back of freshman Liam Markus and crossing the goal line. Not allowing the Titans gain more momentum, sophomore Evan Kowal rifled a brilliant strike that evaded the right arm of the San Marino goalie on its path to the bottom corner. The two squads traded chances for the remainder of the third period, but neither of the high-powered offenses could change the 2-2 score.
The stalemate continued into the second period; both attacks launched numerous shots, but the posts stood firm against the barrage. Both teams did just enough defensively to prevent the opposition from gaining an offensive rhythm. The Tigers, as in past games, showcased a combination of man coverage and zone defense, which forced several turnovers and missed shots. This defense has been incredibly successful in the past, as South Pas generally only yields quality scoring opportunities and goals while the opposition is in transition. The Titans looked to capitalize on this Achilles heel using cherry picking. By sending a player forward and playing zone, the Titans opted to allow the South Pas driver to stride forward and shoot, but the Tigers’ strikes still had to evade extended San Marino arms. Unfortunately, South Pas couldn’t throw a perfect strike, firing several shots that missed or hit the post. However, by passing inside, the Tigers avoided San Marino’s defense. Junior Philip Lee received a pass and spun, patiently waiting out the San Marino goalie before rocketing a shot into the right side of the net. Neither team could score for the remainder of the period, as the first half ended with a tally of 3-2.
South Pas maintained its 3-2 lead well into the third quarter, but the Titans eventually tied the game in transition on an outnumbered attack. The close game elicited vehement emotions from the crowd, who shouted encouragement and criticism at every twist in momentum. Fouls and missed chances only added to the gravity and tension of each play. Thankfully for South Pas, freshman Maven Palacios fired an accurate strike into the top right corner of the goal. Philip Lee unleashed two hard shots at the end of the period, but couldn’t provide an insurance goal.=
As the Tigers entered the pool in the fourth quarter, so did freshman Dominic Kline, who tallied four goals in the previous matchup against the Titans. Although Kline didn’t score in this game, he had an offensive impact, because the Tigers scored four goals in the fourth period. Early on in the quarter, Lane-Flanigan tacked on another goal, giving South Pas some breathing room. Markus kept the game at 5-3 with an outstanding block to his right while the Titans had the man advantage. Senior captain Jasper Lee added two goals of his own, firing strikes from the center area of the pool. San Marino managed to cut the deficit to three goals, but the comeback was too little, too late. The game finalized with a 7-4 tally, as the Tigers emerged victorious over their rivals.
“I think that this game continues to show how deep our roster can go,” said Jasper Lee. “We were missing one of our top scorers (Dominic Kline) until the fourth quarter, and even then, he didn’t put any shots away. Everyone on the team was able to put in valuable minutes, and I think we will hopefully be able to grow even stronger in the postseason.“
With a chance to sit atop the league standings, boys’ water polo will face the undefeated Temple City Rams on Thursday, October 19, at TCHS.