San Benito High's Taylor Smith leads the team in goals scored this season. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Even with one of the best aquatic facilities in the Central Coast Section, coach Brendan Sigourney knows it’s going to be a while before the San Benito High water polo program develops to the point where it can have high participation numbers every year to go along with top-flight talent.

That’s why he intends to stay on locally as a club coach through San Benito Aquatics for the long-term. 

“We just started a summer club program for water polo,” he said. “We had a bunch of little kids throwing the ball around and had some age group kids from sixth to eighth graders to a couple of older ones. The hope is to get that going and get kids in the sport at a much younger age before high school. That is the way this is going to change, but it’s a 10-year process before you’ll see major results.”

Now in his eighth season as the San Benito boys water polo coach, Sigourney has a small yet competitive group that continues to make improvements. Junior Taylor Smith leads the team in goals, possesses a rocket for an arm and is an exceptional shooter, Sigourney said. Smith is co-captain on the team along with goalie Nicholas Carpenedu, who has exhibited strong leadership skills in the pool and communicates well with his teammates. 

“Nicholas is beyond his years emotionally and intellectually, so he’s been great for our younger guys,” Sigourney said. 

Kyle Yamanishi is one of the fastest players on the team, knows game situations and possesses solid all-around skills, especially on defense. Jacob Hanson is a senior hole-set and as such bangs with the big boys in front of the goal. Sigourney said Hanson does a lot of the hard work to set himself up and others to score. Hanson has scored some key goals and has been a strong leader. 

Junior Gavin Morden also plays some hole-set and helps guard the opposing team’s hole-set, which is invaluable for a team. Morden is one of the strongest players on the team—no surprise given the position he defends. Junior utility Zach Watt can play goalie or in the field, and he’s been reliable in both spots. 

“Zach has a great arm, a good eye for the game, is aggressive and a good distributor of the ball,” Sigourney said. 

Sophomore Isaac Nordstrom has been developing nicely and is an up and coming player. Sigourney said Nordstrom is “progressing rapidly” and just wants to see him get more aggressive with his shots. San Benito entered the week with a 2-1 record in Pacific Coast League Mission Division play, with wins over Alvarez and York and a loss to Pacific Grove. 

“They (Pacific Grove) will take our league, no problem,” Sigourney said. “We’ll probably take second.”

Even though the Balers have been handled easily in some of their non-league matches, Sigourney has been pleased with the players’ development, noting they’ve improved in many facets of the game. 

“Holistically, from game one Harbor to where we are today, these guys have improved dramatically,” he said. “They’re doing things in practice that we talk about day in, day out. They’re getting better at stopping the counter attacks on defense and are playing a good team game. We know we have to be a team to win it, so in some regards this year is truly who wants it. Who wants to get the steal, who wants to do something? It’s fun to see guys step up who might otherwise normally take a back seat.”

Balers’ junior hole-set Gavin Morden has been solid offensively and defensively. Photo by Robert Eliason.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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