By Michael Aronson
In the second round of CIF playoffs, the varsity boys’ water polo team’s season ended with a 9-3 loss to Newport Harbor.
The Wolverines went into their matchup against Newport with more than just their season’s hopes on the line.
Coach Robert Lynn was the Wolverines’ coach last season and left to coach for Newport at the end of the last school year.
Saturday’s game was the first reunion for Lynn and some of the Wolverine players.
“As much as none of us wanted to admit it, there was an added intensity because we really wanted to get a crack at [Lynn],” Brian Graziano ’12 said. “We wanted to show him why leaving was the wrong choice.”
However, first year Head Coach Brian Flacks ’06 disagreed.
“This was just another game,” he said. “It was the quarterfinal game, and we prepared for this game like we do for every other game. We didn’t worry so much about who was sitting on the other bench.”
The Wolverines got off to a slow start and trailed Newport 3-1 at the end of the first period.
Newport held the Wolverines to two goals in the first half and lead the Wolverines 6-2 at halftime.
Goalie Rye Newman ’13 stopped Newport’s offensive attack in the third period, but Harvard-Westlake could not capitalize on Newman’s many saves.
In the fourth period, Newport outsocred the Wolverines 3-1 to take the victory.
Bradley Schine ’12 led the Wolverines in scoring with two goals, and captain Alec Zwaneveld ’12 added a third.
“We played well in the beginning, but Newport is a great team, and they capitalized on all of the little mistakes we made,” Schine said.
“Newport is probably the second best team in the country,” Flacks said. “They have only lost one game to arguably the best team of all-time in high school water polo. Considering that, we did a good job and we definitely held our own against them.”
Newport’s only loss came against defending CIF champion Mater Dei, who stands as the early favorite to win back-to-back titles.
The Wolverines lost to Mater Dei earlier in their season by two more goals than their six-point loss Saturday to the Sailors.
Despite the playoff loss to Newport, Flacks boasts a 16-8 regular season record, a game better than last year’s team under Lynn.
“After everything that we have been through this year, it’s pretty amazing,” Flacks said.
In his first year as the head of the program, Flacks guided the team to wins against Foothill, Ventura and Crespi, all teams that the Wolverines lost to last season under Lynn.
Flacks’ squad also outscored last year’s team under Lynn by over 60 goals on the sesaon, mainly led by Zwaneveld who averaged about a hat trick a game. As captain, Zwaneveld was the team’s backbone this season, as the leading scorer in the majority of the boys’ games.
Two weeks ago, Zwaneveld justified his role as captain, scoring seven goals in the 27-9 win over Notre Dame.
The 16-8 overall record was also without the help of Henry McNamara ’13 who moved to Newport along with Lynn, as well as Langdon Froomer ’12 who was out this season due to injury.
Because of CIF rules, McNamara was not allowed to play varsity for Newport this season but is expected to face the Wolverines next season.
Freshmen standouts Johnny Hooper ’15, Anthony Ridgely ’15 and Morio Saito ’15 filled holes on the team this year.
With senior goal scoring machines like Graziano, Schine and Zwaneveld having played their last game in red and black, the young talent on the team is poised to take leadership roles next fall.