Senior goalie sparks water polo’s success

October 17, 2008 — by Kevin Mu and Guy Quanrud

Of all the players on the boys’ varsity water polo team, senior Justin Winningham is the tallest. His height of 6’5” dwarfs those of his fellow teammates and also provides him with an advantage as goalie: his massive wingspan. His long arms cover up most of the goal and frustrate opposing players in their shot selection, boosting the team’s defensive presence.

Thanks largely to Winningham, the Falcons have roared to a 6-1 record, a great improvement from last season. Although Winningham is only one player, his skills equip the team with insurance against fast-break counters and make the Falcons dynamic at both ends of the pool.

“Justin has definitely gotten a lot better. He’s amazing,” said junior Kevin Rollinson. “He’s definitely helped [us win a lot of our games].”

In a recent game against Wilcox, Winningham really came through in a clutch, blocking three penalty shots, which in water polo are just five meters from the goal. As a result, Saratoga was able to slip by the Chargers 8-7.

Even in the Falcons’ only loss of the year, Winningham kept the defense intact against Lynbrook’s upbeat offensive strategy, but in the end, the Vikings won 8-7.

“We lost because we weren’t all at our best,” said Winningham, “but we still played a really good game. Lynbrook just played a different type of offense than we’ve ever seen before.”

Because the team moved down to a lower division this year, it has done well; however, Winningham admits that he underestimated the caliber of the schools in their new league and was surprised to find that many teams were very challenging.

“The teams are a lot harder than I thought they would be,” Winningham said. “We thought it would be much easier since we moved down a [division], but they’re actually pretty good.”

With Winningham at goalie, the Falcons can expect to have in edge an their games for the rest of the season. His goalkeeping, combined with the team’s strong offense, is sure to lead the Falcons to success this season.

Saratoga dominated Fremont 9-4 their team was throwing punches but in the end it was us that were actually scoring
Saratoga crushed Santa Clara 13-5 in their game last Tuesday, playing with strong defense and aggressive offense. It was a close game at halftime with the Falcons leading 4-3, but the Falcons pulled away in the third quarter with a flurry of goals and ended the game with a blowout.

“[In the third quarter] we countered a lot, and we shot a lot more,” senior team captain Mortazavi said. “It was a great game.”
Mortazavi and fellow captain senior Arian Mahini were the key players in the game, scoring 3 and 4 points, respectively.

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