The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Boys’ water polo loses to Newport Harbor in semifinal due to missed call in final seconds

Justin Tang
Attacker Alex Heenan ’24 legs up on a five-meter penalty shot against Newport Harbor in the CIF semifinal Nov. 8.

The boys’ water polo team lost to Newport Harbor High School 12-11 in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) Open Division semifinal Nov. 8. In the final seconds of the game, with the score tied 11-11, Newport Harbor Attacker Connor Ohl scored on a power play to win the game. Although scored after the final buzzer according to video footage, the officials deemed the goal valid to end the game. The Wolverines finished the season with an overall record of 19-7 and a league record of 4-0.

Attacker Jack Shapiro ’26 said the final call ultimately cost the team a spot in the championship.

“I’m furious,” Shapiro said. “There’s video evidence that the ball was in [Ohl’s] hand by the time the [shot clock] went off, and I’m furious because that was our season. That was our game. We had a special group and we deserved to be in that championship game, and that Newport team doesn’t.”

Attacker Aidan Romain ’26 said the team was faced with one-sided circumstances going into the match.

“We took a two-and-a-half-hour drive all the way down to Orange County, and nobody’s on our side,” Romain said. “Nobody’s with us, and we go out there and we kick their butts. Nobody, including the referees, wants to see that happen, so they decided to try and make a change. They did what’s in their power to make that change and there’s nothing I can do about it. But my big thing is fairness. I want to be a good player, but I also want to be a fair player. With the amazing way that we played this game, we were robbed by the referees of this championship.”

Despite the loss to Newport, Romain said he was proud of the senior class’ ability to come together in their final game.

“I was really happy to see [the senior class] shine,” Romain said. “Unfortunately in their last game, but more importantly when the moment really mattered. Everyone was on the same note and everyone was executing, even when others weren’t executing. We had people covering for each other. It was just really impressive to see the senior class perform in their last game.”

Boys Water Polo Program Head Jack Grover said both referees have professional backgrounds and should not be blamed for the loss.

“Anybody who wants to complain about the referees needs to understand that there is no harder job in a high school game than refereeing,” Grover said. “We’re not talking about two guys who just started refereeing. We’re talking about [Toni Karaman and Robert Matosic], who have done excellent jobs on many, many games. [Matosic] was excellent in our game against Loyola, so I think to say that the outcome was their fault is unfair.”

Grover said many players have grown significantly over the course of the season.

“[Alex Heenan ’24], for example, is someone who really cared about scoring his goals,” Grover said. “And in our last possession of the game, [Heenan] making that last entry pass as someone jumps out to him is everything to me. Putting aside what might make him feel better and doing what the team needed is everything that you can ask for as a coach.”

Grover said the semifinal loss was a painful way to end the season.

“It’s just super bittersweet,” Grover said. “The entire team, but the seniors especially, had so many things stacked against them, and they just went out there and said, ‘Let’s be all in together for this one thing.’ And it was a fairy tale game except for the result.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Justin Tang, Assistant Sports Editor

Comments (0)

All The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *