Boys’ water polo aims to beat rival for spot in CCS

October 29, 2015 — by Helen Chen and Alex Yang

With a 11-1 record, the boys’ water polo team has maintained its position as the No. 1 team in the El Camino League.

With a 11-1 record, the boys’ water polo team has maintained its position as the No. 1 team in the El Camino League. But after a recent loss to Homestead, the boys will advance to CCS only if they do better than the Mustangs in the league tournament scheduled for the first week of November.

In a close game away on Oct. 20, the Falcons lost 12-11 to Homestead, their top rival in the league, in double overtime and sudden death. Though the team was up 4-2 in the first quarter with three goals by senior driver Noah Quanrad, the lead decreased to only one goal at halftime and the score was tied at the end of both the third and fourth.

In the final minute of the second overtime, Homestead scored, leading 11-10. With only seconds left, senior Andrew Jiang caused a turnover, passing the ball to senior Graham Schmeltzer, who hit a lob shot as time expired, again tying the score 11-11. During sudden death, the team was caught off guard by an unmarked player who scored the winning goal for Homestead.

If they had won, the Falcons would have secured the only spot for CCS from the El Camino League. As it stands, the league tournament will determine which team advances to CCS.

“We still have a good shot at making CCS,” senior captain Mason Lee said. “It’s just a matter of reaching that potential. We beat [Homestead] by five goals [earlier this season], and we can definitely do it again.”

The team faced tough competition at the Carmel Tournament from Oct. 23-24, where they lost 10-7 to Carmel High School, 8-5 to Saint Ignatius and 11-6 to Pioneer.

On Oct. 22, the team beat Cupertino at home 12-2. Cupertino scored both its goals in the fourth quarter, one of which was due to a penalty. Junior David Nguyen scored three of the 12 goals, and senior Arnav Pawar and junior Armin Agha-Ebrahim both added two.

The Falcons also beat Milpitas 20-4 on Oct. 15 and Fremont 12-5 on Oct. 13.

Sophomore Ilan Cheraki points to the team’s ability to make adjustments as a reason for their success.

“[After] every game, we evaluate the opposite team's strength and weaknesses and adapt them in our defense as well as offense,” Cheraki said. “We work a lot on 6-on-5’s  and looking around for the ball, which enables us to play smarter.”

With just a few games left, they know it’s crunch time.

“We will come out with all we got, and in the end do our best to win,” Cheraki said.

Due to printing deadlines, the Oct. 27 game against Lynbrook and the Oct. 29 senior night game against Santa Clara could not be covered.

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