Dreams of a CCS championship washed down the drain as the Paly boys water polo team lost to Menlo Atherton High School (M-A) on Nov. 5 in the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs. Due to their nearly perfect record during the regular season, the team earned a top spot in the playoffs. They hoped to beat M-A and continue on to play Los Gatos High School, but their hopes fell short after a crushing 8-9 loss. Since CCS is a single elimination affair, the season has come to a bitter close for the boys.
“After the second quarter we started to fall apart,” Smale said. “Our offense wasn’t moving the ball as well and we were taking a lot more outside shots rather than going in. Defensively, we were not as strong either.”
The Vikings previously played Henry M. Gunn High School on Nov. 29 for the League championship title, but the game ended in a loss for the Vikes.
“We were so close,” said senior captain Alex Beaudry. “We lost in triple overtime and I really thought we had it because I scored a goal in the last 40 seconds and we were up. I thought we had it, but they scored [with] 11 seconds to go, so it sucked. It went to two overtimes with no points scored.”
However, this loss was ultimately a blessing for the team, as it placed them in an easier bracket for the CCS playoffs. The Vikings were placed in the sixth bracket, one lower than league champion Gunn, who played in the fifth bracket.
“[In the playoffs] I think we totally were a completely different team than we were at the beginning of the season,” Beaudry said. “The team at the beginning of the season probably would have given up on that game before the first half, so I think that the fact that we were able to keep [up with] Gunn, which is a really good team, is amazing.”
Despite falling just short of their goal to win the league title, the team has continued to see these improvements over the course of their season and is reflecting on their accomplishments.
“There is always room for improvement,” Beaudry said. “Probably keeping our eyes open and recognizing we have opportunities [is one area of improvement].”
However, hopes are not as high for next year’s season. The team will be losing a substantial number of talented players, and recovering from this will be challenging.
“I don’t want to make assumptions [about how the team is going to do next year] but we’re losing so many people it is going to be hard to recover,” Beaudry said. “However, if we have the same drive as we did this year I think we’ll be okay.”
The boys water polo team will lose over half of its players this year due to graduation. Despite the major loss, the team is looking forward to a succesful season next year. Some players to look out for in the pool next year include sophomore goalie Benjamin Rapperport, junior Matthew Nemeth and junior John Anderson.
Varsity coach Aaron Johnson is coming back next season and hopes to take the team even further. “I’m coming back and we are going for the CCS championship,” Johnson said.