The rivalry between Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake water polo reached new heights last weekend when the Wolverines lost 9-6 in the finals of the Santa Barbara Tournament. The team made the tournament finals for the first time in school history, but came up short when they rematched the Monarchs.
“We went up 2-0 and then they scored five consecutive goals,” center Ben Hallock ‘16 said. “We had so many opportunities to score but we never fully capitalized.” Hallock fouled out in the fourth quarter.
The team had a relatively easy time earning a spot in the finals, breezing by Santa Barbara 19-5 and Newport Harbor 20-11. A semifinal win over San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic 11-6 brought the team to the finals. The tournament is made up of the top 16 ranked teams in the state, and top ranked CIF Division I teams Loyola and Dana Hills were present. It is considered to be one of the top tournaments in the nation as California teams regularly dominate national polls.
“Making it to the championship of this tournament was very exciting, but at the same time we are nowhere near satisfied with the results,” head coach Brian Flacks ’06 said. “We’re excited to get back to training and improve.”
Flacks said small details and plays gave Mater Dei the upper hand.
“Every time we play them is going to be a battle,” Flacks said. “The games we play against them are always close and this time they did a better job of taking advantage of our mistakes. They also had great goalkeeping which kept them in the game.”
Mater Dei goalkeeper McQuin Baron had 19 saves to give the Monarchs the edge.
Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake are considered to be the two best teams in California, filling the first and second spots respectively in the most recent CIF Division I rankings.
A rematch is scheduled for Oct. 15 but Flacks said he wants the team to focus on all of their upcoming games, not just their impending rematch against CIF champs Mater Dei.
Seasonal nonleague games have posed no threat to the Wolverines’ perfect record.
The team improved to 4-0 after beating Ventura High School 15-5 Sept. 4 and CIF Division II powerhouse Murietta Valley 15-7 in their season opener Sept. 11.
In the game against Murietta Valley, the squad was winning 10-2 before Flacks cleared the bench. Team losses have only come from tournament play.
The team played Division II squad Damian Tuesday, but the results were not available as of press time.
The Wolverines previously beat the Spartans over the summer in preseason play.
The next home game is Homecoming against Long Beach Wilson Oct 5. Ranked fourth in CIF Division I, the Bruins are expected to be a good match for the Wolverines, according to Flacks.
League play is set to start Oct. 9 against Crespi at Copses Family Pool.
Despite the loss to Mater Dei, Duncan Froomer ’16 does not think it will limit the team’s success for the rest of the season.
“I really see us being so successful this year,” Froomer said. “There’s just something about this team.”