Written by Alex Betts
Photos by Thomas Forman
Boys’ water polo picked up its first win of the season at home on Thursday, August 31, in a 8-7 victory over a tremendous Hoover squad that finished as a Division II quarterfinalist last year. The nail-biting win brings the team’s record to 1-2, which is trending in the right direction as league play approaches. After momentum shifts defined the first half, the Tigers held significantly more possession and started to capitalize on their chances later in the game.
Just seconds into the first quarter, Hoover gained a 1-0 lead on a solid, somewhat surprising shot to the top section of the goal. Charging back, South Pas was ambitious in its attempts to score, but was denied twice by the post before senior Owen Carlson forced a Hoover turnover and enabled senior Philip Lee to rocket a hard strike to the right upper portion of the net. Late in the first period, Hoover took a 2-1 lead on a fake shot that moved two Tiger defenders to the left before throwing a shot against the flow to the bottom right corner.
At the start of the second period, a block by freshman goalie Liam Markus allowed Lee and freshman Eddie Lane-Flanigan to combine for a goal in transition. Both squads traded opportunities until a brilliant, skipping shot gave the Tornados a 3-2 lead. A goal by Hoover had been called off due to a foul and a deflection off the left post prevented another South Pas score. Later, an incredible fingertip save by Markus’ outstretched right arm kept the deficit at one goal. South Pas carried that momentum for the next several minutes and a swarming Tiger defense produced a steal that enabled freshman Anthony Felix to fire a strike that ricocheted off the top bar. Somehow Felix’s shot didn’t cross the goal line, but Lane-Flanigan prevailed in the ensuing battle with the opposing goalie and scored his second goal of the game. Neither team could convert on their multiple scoring chances in the remainder of the period; they headed to halftime three goals with the scored tied at 3-3.
Halftime advice proved beneficial in the third period. Freshman Dominic Kline gave South Pas its first lead of the game when he stole the ball, faked out the opposing goalie and rifled the ball into the left side of the net. Moments later Kline increased the Tiger’s lead to 5-3 when he converted a beautiful pass across the front of the net from Lane-Flanigan with a shot to the left area of the goal.
In the fourth period, Lane-Flanigan continued his precision passing. This time a cutting Lane-Flanigan completed a pass to senior Andres Limon, who accurately launched the ball into the goal. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Hoover wasted no time in coming back; in just over a minute, Hoover reduced South Pas’ lead to a single goal. Shortly thereafter, a Hoover player peeled away from the Tiger defenders and tied the game at six. With time elapsing, each possession had extra importance and the mounting tension kept fans on the edge of their seats. Senior Jasper Lee came through in the clutch for the home team, rocketing a backhanded strike into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Tigers quality defensive prevented the Tornadoes from getting any open looks at the goal and preserved the 7-6 lead. With under ten seconds left, it appeared the Tigers would emerge victorious, but a Hoover player threw a last-chance shot that found its way to the top corner of the goal, tying the game at seven. Stunned fans looked on and contemplated overtime when Lane-Flanigan fired an incredible, accurate strike from the center of the pool that landed in the Tornadoes’ net as time expired.
Boys’ water polo will travel to Corona to compete in a Division IV-V tournament next week on Friday, August 8, and Saturday, August 9.