Water Polo: On Senior Day, seniors rule

Balers goalie Dakota Nix makes a save during the team's 9-6 win over Palma on Oct. 27.

For the San Benito High boys water polo team, its Senior Day match took on extra meaning on Oct. 27. That’s because of the 12 players on the San Benito roster, nine are seniors. The senior class went out in style, helping to deliver the team a 9-6 non-league win over Palma.
“This is the seniors’ year and they deserve this,” Haybalers coach Brendan Sigourney said. “I couldn’t be happier to have our final home game end with a win.”
Even though San Benito and Palma are in different divisions—the Balers play in the MBL’s lower Pacific Division and Palma is in the Gabilan—this was their second meeting of the season. Sigourney said the team needed to play as many games as possible to hit the maximum contest mark in the hopes to accumulate the necessary power points to qualify for the Central Coast Section playoffs.
The fields for the CCS water polo postseason are a lot smaller than most other sports, so a number of teams with records well above .500 don’t make the postseason. The same is not true for sports like football and basketball. In the basketball playoffs, there are always a couple of teams with losing records that make the tournament.
San Benito lost to Palma in the teams’ first meeting, an 11-6 defeat on Sept. 24. However, the Balers were clearly the superior team in the rematch, controlling the contest for most of the way. And when the Balers faced adversity—it saw a 5-2 lead turn into a 6-5 deficit late in the third period—they rose to the occasion, outscoring the Chieftains 4-0 the rest of the way.
“Any time you can beat a team from the upper division, it looks good for us,” Sigourney said. “I think this is a real good sign of how far we’ve come in the past month. I liked how we fought in the fourth quarter and pulled it out. It’s a great sign with MBL Finals coming up. We have to be playing at our peak, and I think we’re right there.”
Daniel Reimer led San Benito with four goals, Jake Last had two scores and Zander Bonnet, Oliver Garcia and Cole Walker added one goal each. Goalie Dakota Nix had perhaps his best game of the season, coming up with several spectacular saves to preserve the team’s lead in the first half.
“Dakota had a great game,” Sigourney said. “It seemed like he made all the big blocks when we needed them.”
Bonnet came up with the goal of the game, scoring with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left to give the Balers an 8-6 lead. Bonnet received a pass in front of the Palma goal only to be surrounded by two defenders. Bonnet was actually submerged under water as he fought the two defenders for control of the ball.
Once Bonnet surfaced, he grabbed the ball before powering a shot into the backstop. Earlier in the period, Bonnet delivered a nice pass to Reimer, who fought off his defender before releasing a beautiful float shot over the Palma goalie for a score. The seniors on the team include Last, Reimer, Nix, Walker, Garrett Lawrence, Eric De La Torre, Jared Murdaugh, Mason Crawford and Ciaran Rule.
Sigourney has relied on his seniors to carry the load this season, and they’ve delivered. Last has played a pivotal role, helping to lead by example.
“Jake has been great offensively and defensively,” Sigourney said. “He’s quick, coachable and he’s a guy we’ve looked to all season. You can always count on Jake.”
Sigourney was proud of the team for toughening up defensively, especially in the fourth quarter. Reimer scored twice and Bonnet once in the final period.
“Our defense was much better, and that’s the type of thing you’re looking for,” Sigourney said.

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