By Matt Wakumoto
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kim
The South Pasadena boys’ water polo team continued their early season success with a 13-9 win at home over the Brea Olinda Wildcats. After last week’s landslide victory over Pasadena Poly, the Tigers were challenged this week by a tough Brea Olinda team. The schools were evenly matched at first; however, they were ultimately separated by the Tigers’ lock down defense and ability to produce points in the clutch. Initially, South Pas had trouble gaining traction on the Brea Olinda defense, however as the game progressed the Tigers were able to establish their strength on the fast break. The win improved their record to 2-0 outside of league.
Although Brea was able to take a 1-0 lead early in the first quarter, they could not contain South Pasadena for long. The Tigers struck back on a score from senior Cameron Benitez, and continued to pound into the the Wildcats’ defense. Both teams were able to set themselves up during the counter attack, however the Tigers’ execution and tempo was superior to that of Brea Olinda’s. The Tigers’ defense was pivotal in forcing turnovers that fed senior, Leo Sonner, who would score twice for the Tigers on a deep shot over the middle and a drive on the fast break to give South Pas a 3-1 lead. South Pas defense also played a large part in disrupting opposing players and forcing them to make bad decisions in two meter range. Senior Spencer Gurley ended the quarter with a score to bring the lead to 4-2.
The second quarter continued a trend of tough defense between the two teams as well as wasted opportunities for the Wild Cats. South Pasadena continued to spoil all Brea Olinda possessions, either with quick heads up plays or a dominant presence near the cage. The Tigers were able to find their groove and increase ball movement in long drawn out possessions. They continued to distance themselves with a pair of scores from senior DJ Myer and goal from Junior Owen Carlson to make the lead 8-4 at half.
After resting and preparing, the Wildcats came out hot in third quarter. They wrestled with the Tigers out of the gate and drew the score to 9-7. In the midst of a Brea Olinda comeback the Tigers exuded maturity in collecting themselves and making key plays on both offense and defense. Although Brea had regained form on defense, both Gurley and Sonner showed poise by forcing the ball down the throats of Wildcat players to reestablish a large lead. On defense, Senior goalkeeper Robbie Decker had two huge blocks on Brea Olinda shots to distill their momentum.
The Tigers slowed down their pace of play in the fourth quarter to ice their win over the WIldcats. They stopped most attempts at scoring and focused heavily on preventing the wildcats from reentering the game. They gave up two points in the last minute of the game, but still sealed off their win, 13-9.
Gurley led the team for the second week in a row with five points, and was followed by Sonner and Benitez who both scored three times. Myer also contributed with two scores as well as Carlson who scored once.
South Pasadena will prepare for their final preseason home game against the Montebello Oilers on Thursday, September 17 at 3:30.