The Palo Alto High School boys water polo team ended its postseason with a victory over Henry M. Gunn High School after capping the regular season with a tough loss to its cross-town rivals. After being unable to beat Gunn in previous meetings, the Vikings held off the Titans by one point, securing their spot atop the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL).
The Vikings finished the season with a 9-3 league record, tying for second-best in the league with Mountain View High School because of their 1-1 record against the Spartans. However, in games against teams outside of the league, each of the top three teams — Gunn , Paly, and Mountain View — all held losing records. Gunn actually finished with an equal winning percentage as Paly for games outside of the league, with a record of 2-6 compared with Paly’s 3-9. While Gunn may have had a smaller sample, it’s clear that Paly was not the only team that had trouble outside of the league.
However, after winning their league playoffs, the Vikings fell in their first game of the Central Coast Sectionals (CCS) playoffs. After having a bye in its first week of the CCS playoffs, Paly lost by a single point to Salinas High School, who were hot off a five point first-round victory over Los Gatos High School. Salinas also held an impressive 18-4 record for the season, boasting more wins and fewer losses than Paly.
Looking back at the team’s season, it’s clear that despite a few tough losses, the team was successful. While its loss to Salinas may have been disappointing, the Vikings’ win over Gunn to claim the league title was a run that did not seem possible after Gunn’s undefeated season. The team had some downs to go with the ups though, and its results across the season remain inconsistent. In their regular season, the Vikings demolished a good portion of their opponents, but they also had trouble closing out games against some teams. Looking back at the team’s record, many of its losses were decided by only a few points while many of its wins were decided by huge margins, especially those within the league.
The team seemed to perform better at the extremes of competition; in games against lesser opponents, Paly was able to walk all over the competition, and in games against teams that should have beaten them, Paly still managed to hold its ground. However, the Vikings found the most trouble with teams that were more even matches, perhaps because the higher-skilled teams gave them motivation and the lower-skilled teams gave them more opportunities.
Even with a good portion of the team having graduated last year, the team still had top league performers in junior Winston Rosati and senior Lucas Novak, who both finished the regular season in the top five players for both goals and points. Rosati and Novak consistently held top spots within the league from the first through the last game.
All in all, it was a successful season for the boys water polo team, even with some tough close losses and some trouble outside the league, everything seemed to go Paly’s way during the SCVAL playoffs. As was the case last year, the team will have some rebuilding to do, with both the starting goalkeeper Luke Schroder and the top scorer Lucas Novak graduating.
However, the team should be proud of winning its league and those remaining on the team for next year should look forward to another good season in 2015.