Despite a tandem of relative inexperience and tough opponents early on in the season, the Wolverines have emerged from their first seven games of the season unscathed. Among those tough opponents are Huntington Beach and Mater Dei, ranked 5th and 2nd in the CIF-Southern Section Division I poll, respectively.
In a rematch of last year’s CIF championship game against Mater Dei, the Wolverines beat the Monarchs 12-3 to win an early season tournament in Santa Barbara.
“[In] the game against Mater Dei, we played pretty well and they didn’t play that well,” Davis Wachtell ’16 said. “I don’t think we’re going to have a game that’s going to be like that against them again. I think it’ll be closer next time we play them.”
The Wolverines have had the upper hand against the Monarchs as of late, winning all of their last six meetings. The win also crowned the Wolverines champions of the Santa Barbara tournament for the second year in a row; the Wolverines defeated Mater Dei 10-8 last year in the tournament’s championship game.
But despite continued recent success against their rivals, Head of Aquatics Brian Flacks does not want to use Mater Dei games as benchmarks.
“One of the things that’s very important, and we talk about this in practice all the time, is everyone wants to keep holding us to this Mater Dei standard: if we beat Mater Dei we’re doing a really good job,” Flacks said. “It’s really important that we get away from ‘us and Mater Dei’ because one, there’s lots of really good teams and, two, we have a standard that we hold ourselves to that’s different than us beating Mater Dei. Our goal has never been to beat Mater Dei.”
Even so, beating Mater Dei has been and continues to be a necessity if the Wolverines want to achieve their true goals.
“Our biggest goal is to win CIF, and that also comes with winning the league championship,” Wachtell said. “Another one of our goals is to have an undefeated season.”
After extending their winning streak to 44 games, the Wolverines’ early results suggest that another CIF championship, and even perhaps another undefeated season, is not out of reach. They also started strong towards their league play aspirations, routing Alemany 24-1 in their Mission League opener.
“We obviously take league very importantly here and one of our main goals is winning the Mission League championship, so it’s always nice to start league play 1-0 with a win,” Flacks said. “Now we’re really getting into the heart of our season and we’re excited.”
The next team to face the Wolverines was Huntington Beach. The Wolverines had already defeated the Oilers once before this season in an 11-7 victory in the semifinal of the Santa Barbara tournament.
The Copses Family Pool hosted the teams’ second meeting of the season on Saturday. Those in attendance saw Ben Hallock ‘16 score five goals in the first half of a game that ended 18-5 in favor of the home side.
While experienced players like Hallock are considered to be particularly strong, other younger players are also gaining recognition.
“One of the names you’ll [start to] see more and more often is Felix Brozyna-Vilim ‘17, who is our starting center defender right now,” Flacks said. “I think [he] has come along to be, in a lot of ways, one of the top players in the United States, adding so much depth to particularly our center position but also adding depth to our lineup.”
Brozyna-Vilim scored two of the Wolverine’s 18 goals this past weekend, and, in what could be seen as a testament to the team’s depth, was one of seven different Wolverines to score.
Yet despite all of this, Flacks says there is still room for improvement.
“A lot of credit goes to the boys,” Flacks said. “We train year round consistently so I think that’s played a really big part in our success early in the season. At the same time we understand it’s really early in the season and that’s really, really important to stress. We want to maintain this level of excellence and grow on it still, so we’re definitely not satisfied with where are and we want to keep improving.”