Boys’ water polo finds success in tournaments


SHOOT YOUR SHOT: Attacker Ryan Neapole ’19 prepares to shoot over a defender in their home victory against Notre Dame on Sept. 4. The Wolverines defeated the Knights 15-1 to kick off their season and claim first place in the Mission League. The squad now has a perfect 3-0 league record heading into the season’s second half. Credit: Caitlin Chung/Chronicle

William Seymour

The Wolverines reached back to back tournament championships, winning the Elite 8 title game Sept. 15, but losing in the finals of the South Coast Tournament Sept. 22.

The Wolverines had triumphed over Newport Harbor in the semifinals of the Elite 8 Tournament 11-7 just a week earlier but fell short of back-to-back tournament titles when they lost 13-11 in the championship game of the South Coast Tournament.

“The South Coast Tournament was frustrating for us as a whole,” attacker Alexandru Bucur ’19 said. “We stopped playing as the disciplined team we’ve prided ourselves on being. As a result, we ended up in very close games with a lot of teams that weekend before ultimately losing to Newport in the final.”

The loss in the championship game of the South Coast Tournament capped off the Wolverines’ record at 11-2. Earlier in the tournament, the boys beat Edison High School 19-2, San Clemente High School 11-4 and Santa Margarita High School 10-9 in their three pool play games, the games in the tournament before the semifinals .

In the semifinals of the South Coast Tournament, the squad faced Campolindo High School in a match that went into golden goal overtime, which happens when the score is tied at the end of regulation. Once overtime starts, the first team to score is the winner.. The Wolverines won the match 11-10.

In the championship game of the Elite 8 Tournament, the Wolverines defeated Sacred Heart Preparatory School 12-5 Sept. 15. The Wolverines lost to Sacred Heart in their second game of the tournament 10-11, but Pierce Maloney ’19, said the loss united the players and allowed them to focus on improving themselves for the final. Goalkeeper Nolan Krutonog ’20 agreed that the loss helped the team.

“We ended up turning towards the coaching staff and really embraced taking pride in being more disciplined than we were, which led to our success,” Krutonog said.

The Wolverines’ record in the Elite 8 Tournament was 4-1, after beating Vista High School 14-7, Oaks Christian High School 14-1 and Newport Harbor 11-7 in addition to Sacred Heart.

The squad beat Orange Lutheran High School 18-6 Sept. 25 and Crespi Carmelite High School in a league match Sept. 26. They faced off against Mater Dei in their homecoming match up Sept. 29.

The Wolverines’ next match is set against league opponent Oaks Christian on Oct. 3. In their last face off, the Wolverines won at the Elite 8 Tournament. In preparation for the game against Oaks Christian, Bucur said that the squad is attempting to refocus.

“We are taking a step back and focusing on the fundamentals and identity of our team so we can go back to playing sound, disciplined water polo,” Bucur said.