The South Pasadena varsity boys water polo team’s season ended Wednesday evening at Pasadena City College. SPWP suffered a tough 8-6 loss in the CIF semi-final game against Redondo Union. The constant changes of momentum throughout the game made for a competitive match.

The Tigers came out strong taking a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Both first quarter goals were scored by junior Phillip Lee. As soon as the Tigers felt in control, Redondo Union went on a 4-0 streak in the second quarter, and led 4-2 at the half.

Photo by Joseph Ruiz

The second half started quickly, with Redondo Union’s offensive front sprinting down the pool taking two strong shots on goal. Neither shot found the net due to remarkable saves by SP goalie Liam Markus. The first block stopped an accurately placed lob shot from sneaking into the net.  Liam used impressive technique and strength to push high above the water to stop the shot. The second save stopped a well orchestrated Redondo Union offensive strike.  Redondo, effective at isolating their set, maintained floating just 5 meters from the goal, and immediately passed the ball to their center set player.  The Redondo set was able to draw the foul and take an aggressive skip shot that would have easily scored but for Liam’s quick reflexes.

South Pas failed to capitalize on its own scoring opportunities in the third quarter, the best of which came on the last play of the quarter, after an organized offensive play. When SPWP passed the ball into Eddie Lane- Flannigan in the set position, Eddie, with formidable athletic ability, took a strong backhand shot that hit the side post, barely missing the net.

Photo by Joseph Ruiz

South Pas started the fourth quarter with two well-executed goals, closing the margin and trailing Redondo by one goal. Dominic Kline scored the first of three SP goals in the fourth.  Kline drew a foul against the Redondo Union’s vigorous defense, creating space to move. From a deep position, Kline shot a perfect right-post bar-in shot, for his second goal of the game.

SPWP wasted no time in scoring another quick goal. Phillip Lee found himself in the middle of the pool in the set position on a high-pressure SP offensive attack. The team was able to get Lee the ball. As three Redondo defensive players all crashed onto Lee, he rose high above the water and shot an impressive bar-in shot leaving the Redondo goalie with no chance for a block. It was Lee’s third goal of the game.

The Tigers momentum did not last. Redondo fought back and scored two more goals in the fourth, widening their lead to 8-6, the final score of the game.

The team was disheartened after the loss, but very optimistic about its future.  Head coach Mike Gonzales was happy his younger players got “legitimate play-off experience for the first time.”  Mike is excited for his team to “naturally grow and get better.”

Photo by Joseph Ruiz

Antony Felix, a freshman utility player, held his head high after the game. “It was a great team effort. I love these guys and love to play with everyone on this team. The majority of the team is young and we have a lot of time to grow.” He is looking forward to future seasons.

Jasper Lee, a senior, was proud he had the opportunity to play with his 2017 teammates. “This is the first year on the team everyone really wanted to be here the entire time. Best year here.”

The game was a “tough loss” for junior Phillip Lee, but Lee is very hopeful for the 2018 season.  “The team has a lot of potential,” he said. “We are playing with five freshmen on varsity. The fact that we made it this far and had hopes to be the CIF champs shows how much we have to improve on for next year.”

The last thing Coach Mike said to his team in the locker room was the “2018 season starts today.” The team will take one week off and then head straight back to the Rose Bowl to practice in the off-season.

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