Water polo men take TCAL title, women fall to Live Oak in final
The Tri County Athletic League men’s and women’s water polo
finals were more than a grudge match between two schools.
Last Saturday’s TCAL finals became a showcase for two of the
leagues elite programs, the Live Oak Acorns and the San Benito
Water polo men take TCAL title, women fall to Live Oak in final game
The Tri County Athletic League men’s and women’s water polo finals were more than a grudge match between two schools.
Last Saturday’s TCAL finals became a showcase for two of the leagues elite programs, the Live Oak Acorns and the San Benito Haybalers.
Both programs faced each other in the men’s and women’s finals and each came away with a victory to claim.
The Acorns women defeated the Haybalers 6-3 to earn a share of the TCAL title with San Benito.
The Haybalers men, however, evened the score by whitewashing Live Oak 13-4 later in the afternoon. In doing so, the San Benito men snapped Live Oak’s decade-long chokehold on conference championships.
Both teams celebrated their wins in similar fashion. After its win, Live Oak coach Brain Traverse jumped feet-first into the Live Oak pool. Conversely, the Haybaler men carried Coach Tom Agan to the edge of the pool before heaving him in.
“It was just a great game,” said a shivering, but ecstatic, Traverse. “We just took it to them in the second half. We did a lot of subbing so a lot of the players were fresh.”
Two late goals by Live Oak’s Chelsea Lanning sealed the game and cemented the team’s place in the Central Coast Section playoffs, which started Tuesday.
In the TCAL title game, Traverse’s club did a good job of holding San Benito’s Britta Nordstrom scoreless. Unable to get off any clean shots, the Haybalers, now seeded 10th in the CCS tourney, were rendered helpless.
“In the second half we just decided to go back to the basics on defense,” said Traverse. “Over the last week we’ve been emphasizing defense.”
It showed early in the third quarter. From the opening whistle the Acorn women pressured the ball on the perimeter, double-teamed the hole-set and made life miserable for the San Benito drivers.
Once the ball crossed the midway point of the pool, the Acorns applied pressure on the ball-handlers.
Down 2-1 to open the second half, the Acorns caught the Haybalers napping when Live Oak freshman Ronnie Gautschi stripped the ball in the San Benito end of the pool and put one in.
The constant pressure seemed to slow down the Haybalers and spring the Acorns fastbreak. The Acorns outscored the Haybalers 4-1 over the next quarter-and-a-half.
After the game the Haybalers solemnly filed out of the pool and into the dressing area, while the Acorns hooted and hollered poolside.
The Live Oak men, however, would know no such joy.
San Benito’s Nick Barr scored seven goals and single-handedly snatched the torch out of the Acorns hands.
The win earned the Haybalers a No. 3 seed in the CCS playoffs and a first-round bye. San Benito will play at 1:20 p.m. Saturday against the Aragon Dons at St. Francis High School.
“We’re going in as one of the top four seeds. Hopefully we’ll get past the first round,” said Barr. “We have a legit shot at making the CCS finals.”
Barr dazzled the crowd with an array of goals, some too mind-boggling to describe.
Barr’s first goal gave the Haybalers a 2-0 advantage late in the first quarter. He took the pass, whirled and simply shot it past Live Oak goalie Jason Kim. The Haybalers ended the quarter with a 3-0 lead.
“I was surprised we came out up three goals in the first quarter,” said Barr. “They were playing really hard.”
Barr’s second goal gave his team a 4-0 lead, while his third score brought the crowd to its feet. Posted up just to the left of Kim, Barr received the pass. He was immediately sandwiched by two Live Oak defenders but wheeled around and muscled one past them any way.
By the time Kim reacted to the ball, Barr and his teammates were already celebrating a 5-0 cushion. He then pumped in a shot from the top of the arc for a 6-0 lead.
“Before the game we talked about coming out hard,” said Barr. “We had to keep scoring to keep their crowd out of it. They always have a good crowd.”
The Haybalers complied with a 4-2 run, highlighted by a Barr backhanded, left-handed shot, his sixth of the day.