Despite defensive improvements later in the season, boys’ water polo finishes last in league November 16, 2023 — by Mitchell Chen Courtesy of Aidan KwokCalling a timeout, the team decides to run a new play to try to score on possession. Composed mostly of underclassmen, many of whom have improved drastically this season, the team’s future is bright. The boys’ water polo team finished eighth of eight teams in the El Camino division with a final record of 1-13. Toward the end of the season, they were able to improve significantly on their defense and hold scores down. Offensively, however, the boys could not make the necessary adjustments needed to score and win. Despite the team’s best effort throughout the season, they continued to struggle in the league finals. On Oct. 23, they started with a 15-1 loss to Homestead, the first seed, followed by a 6-2 loss to Milpitas on Oct. 24. Homestead had the more dynamic team, which allowed them to quickly set up plays and better utilize the strengths of their players. “Even with the preparation of the team, we struggled to keep up with the speed and intensity of Homestead,” sophomore set Nirvaan Shah said. Playing against Milpitas in leagues, both teams were fairly evenly matched, and the score remained 0-0 after the first half. In the third quarter, left wing sophomore Kunal Bhatnager was ruled out of the game after receiving three penalties, which resulted in a hole in the defense. Going into the last quarter, the Falcons’ defense slipped up in the last few minutes of the game, resulting in a loss.“We played a really good game, but we just lost the momentum at the end there,” Bhatnager said. “Both the defenders and the goalies made it really difficult for us to score.” The boys played their last league game against Wilcox on Oct. 27, losing 8-2. In the end, the head coach Utku Karhan allowed everyone on the team to have equal playing time as a way to enjoy the last game together. While the team beat only Wilcox this year, players said the next couple of years could have improved results. The sophomores and juniors — who make up a majority of the team — have seen drastic improvements this year, senior point Yanis Herne said. Many underclassmen who started on the bench became key players in the rotations. Bhatnager started on the bench this year, and his improvement has surprised both himself and many on the team. “I found myself being able to guard much better on defense, and on offense I feel my awareness has allowed me to make good assists into the hole set and the outside wings,” Bhatnager said. Team chemistry has also improved from being together in practices starting in early August, and many underclassmen have decided to play together at San Jose Express water polo club to practice outside of the season. “This year we mostly focused on rebuilding the water polo program here at [the school], but I just know the program will continue to grow and improve in the following years,” Shah said. “I know we will be a big threat in our league.” Tags: boys water polo 4 views this weekAbout the contributorsMitchell ChenMitchell Chen, Class of '24, is a Backpage Editor for the 2023-2024 staff. He has written many stories on the school's swim and water polo teams. He has also covered stories on awards and events students have won and led, ranging from a San Jose Sharks scholarship to a student-run modeling show.