First published in the Sept. 24 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
South Pasadena’s boys’ varsity water polo team showed their claws and roared as they edged visiting Newbury Park of Ventura County, 14-12. It was an excellent bounce-back performance for the Tigers against a formidable opponent after a loss to Whittier La Serna the previous week.
“I think we did a good job communicating as a team,” said Lindsey Garcia, the Tigers’ head coach. “We moved the ball well, we shared the goals, everyone was kind of doing their part, and it looked good and it paid off.”
The first quarter was the highest-scoring of the entire contest. Newbury Park opened the scoring in the first minute, but with 5:07 left to play, SPHS senior Owen Imasaki tied the game with a goal.
Senior Blix Hadsell-Florin and Imasaki traded goals with Newbury Park to keep the game tied at three until consecutive scores by Newbury gave it a 5-3 advantage. With 28 seconds left to play, senior Will Michels landed a goal. An additional score gave Newbury a 6-4 advantage at the end of the first period.
SPHS seniors Caleb Hunt and Lucas Abrahamian each scored in the second period to trim Newbury Park’s lead to 7-6 at halftime.
The tide began to turn in the third quarter. Newbury scored twice within the first three minutes, but excellent defending by SPHS senior goaltender Kaden Ho prevented Newbury from scoring for the remainder of the period.
Abrahamian, Imasaki and Michels scored the final three goals of the third period to tie the contest, 9-9.
SPHS opened the scoring in the fourth with a goal from Hadsell-Florin to give the Tigers their first lead of the game, 10-9. With 4:44 left to play, Michels broke the tie again for an 11-10 lead. The third time was the charm for the Tigers, as freshman Theo Hilger’s goal gave SPHS its third and final lead of the game.
Two additional goals from Abrahamian and senior Egan Hadsell-Florin capped the Tigers scoring plays and solidified a 14-12 victory over Newbury.
Ho had an excellent defensive game with 11 saves, preventing Newbury from taking back the lead late in the game.
“Kaden [Ho] actually just started playing in goal for us about two weeks ago, and he’s like our hidden little talent, and he’s doing a great job,” Garcia said. “He came up with a really good block on a five-meter. He reads the game well; he understands where the ball is supposed to be going on offense and makes really good saves.”
Egan Hadsell-Florin had a team-high four steals, and Blix Hadsell-Florin had three. Both Abrahamian and Michels each had two steals, while Imasaki added one.
Abrahamian, Imasaki and Michels each had a team-leading three goals, with Blix Hadsell-Florin adding two. Hunt, Egan Hadsell-Florin and Hilger each scored once.
“I was really impressed with Will Michels. He had three goals for us, a couple steals, some assists on offense, he was facilitating the ball well, and he just played an all-around really good team offense and team defense,” Garcia said. “He’s not typically one of our top scorers, and it was really, really good to see him finding the net a little bit more and then just putting himself in good scoring positions.”