Water polo wins first home game

Asa Saperstein

The boys’ water polo team won its home-opener against Murrieta Valley 10-4 on Wednesday afternoon. The team was down 2-0 in the first quarter but rallied back on an 8-2 run. With the victory, the squad has started the season 2-0.

Murrieta’s goalkeeper had three saves in the first quarter, as his team went up 2-0. The Wolverines’ defense struggled to stop Murrieta’s attack, and they failed to play the press as tightly as they had against Dana Hills.

“We didn’t really expect Murietta to be so aggressive in their attack,” goalkeeper Sam Krutonog ’18 said. “They were really aggressive and physical. [Our defense] had a couple lapses. We didn’t do a good enough job of switching and communicating.”

Pierce Maloney ’19 and George Caras ’20 both scored goals in the closing minutes of the quarter, tying the game at 2-2. The Wolverines then scored three straight goals in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Murrieta scored a third goal, making it 7-3 and forcing Head Coach Brian Flacks to make three substitutions, but the Wolverines quickly answered on the next possession with a goal by Mot Sothart ’20 assisted by Pierce Maloney.

“We were able to come back on an 8-2 run by trusting the coaches’ game plan and the coaching staff,” Krutonog said. “Our game plan doesn’t change if we’re down 5-0 or up 5-0.”

The Wolverines were leading 8-3 going into the fourth quarter, but the Murrieta team scored on its first possession. Keller Maloney ’18 assisted Sothart on a goal that put the team up by five with only a few minutes left. With a minute left in the game, Nico Tierney ’20 capped off the game, scoring on a tip-in with Murrieta’s goalkeeper out of position.

The team’s press defense was smothering, forcing multiple shot clock expirations in the second half. The defense made it difficult for Murrieta to mount a comeback because they had trouble getting a shot off.

“Giving up only four goals is a really good thing, but I think that we can be better, for sure,” Krutonog said.

The team will play at Mater Dei on Sept. 7, having started the season 2-0.