Titans, Mariners splash to 3-0 starts in Mesa League Boys Water Polo
Phillip Brents | Fri, Oct 17 2014 02:25 PM
The Eastlake High School boys water polo team was nursing a modest 4-3 record during the opening weeks of non-league play. Nearing midseason, the Titans are now 12-4, with a spotless 3-0 Mesa League record.
“It’s tough playing in small pools,” EHS head coach Austin Legg admitted. “It takes away our advantages in swimming ability and speed.”
That’s not to say the Titans can’t hold their own in smaller size pools, which seems to be the norm for South County.
Eastlake defeated the Bonita Vista Barons, 15-4, in a league game on Oct. 9 at Southwestern College after recording a 9-7 win at Mater Dei Catholic two days earlier to face off Mesa League competition.
The Titans hosted Otay Ranch on Tuesday at SWC, defeating the Mustangs, 16-4, to open league play 3-0.
But what has Legg excited is how his team has played in larger pools elsewhere in the county. Eastlake finished 4-1 in the Fall Classic, played Oct. 2-4. The Titans dropped their opening game in the tournament by a 12-11 score to Point Loma, but then went undefeated with victories against San Dieguito Academy (19-6), San Ysidro (18-5), Mater Dei Catholic (22-8) and Clairemont (14-11).
Legg noted his team played without varsity goalie Aaron Aitchison in the loss to Point Loma. “We had to use a field player in the cage for that game,” the EHS coach said.
Eastlake blew open the game against the rival Barons with seven unanswered goals to snap an early 1-1 deadlock. The Titans scored six goals in the second quarter — three on six-on-five advantages — to build a 7-1 halftime lead.
Eastlake led 12-3 entering the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has improved a lot since the start of the season,” Legg noted. “Our drive defense has been a positive for us.”
Cousins Mitchell Lannom (six goals) and Nate Niehaus (five goals) supplied the bulk of the offensive production in the win over BVHS while Sal Gomez had three goals and Peter Kolaric scored once. Also, Zack Randall collected three defensive steals while Aitchison posted 12 saves.
Bryan Murrillo paced the Barons with three goals.
Niehaus keyed the Titans with seven goals and two assists in Tuesday’s win while teammates Kyle Kowalski (five goals) and Jesse Haus (two goals, two assists) were next on the scoresheet. Aitchison was credited with 14 saves.
Lannom and Randall led the Titans with three goals each in the win over MDC.
Niehaus, a junior, topped the six-time defending Mesa League champions with 75 goals and 86 points entering Thursday’s game against Hilltop, followed by Kowalski, a senior, with 38 goals and 43 points, and Randall, a junior, with 15 goals and 41 points. Senior Kyle Schauer followed with 20 goals and 36 points while Gomez, a senior, had 22 goals and 32 points, and Lannom, a junior, had 13 goals and 30 points. Aitchison had amassed 30 assists and 117 saves.
Eastlake’s chief challenger for this year’s championship banner appears to be the Mar Vista Mariners, who are off to a 15-2 start after capturing the Gold Division title in last weekend’s East County Invitational. The Mariners defeated Otay Ranch (12-6 on Oct. 7), Hilltop (14-6 on Oct. 9) and Bonita Vista (13-9 on Tuesday) to match the Titans’ 3-0 league start.
“We are on a 13-game winning streak and hoping to extend that,” MVHS coach Chad Kavanagh said. “This team is the best I have coached thus far and the team is performing the way I was hoping it would. Goals for the season are to stay on this winning streak as long as possible and place higher than last year (sixth) in CIF.”
Senior Shane Landry leads Mar Vista, last year’s South Bay League champion, in season scoring with 56 goals and 92 points, followed by classmate Josh Johnson with 48 goals and 74 points.
Eastlake hosts Mar Vista in a key league match Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at SWC.
Hilltop won the Silver Bracket at this year’s ECI with a 4-1 tournament showing. Mater Dei Catholic was fourth in the Gold Bracket, followed by Otay Ranch (sixth) and Bonita Vista (eighth). –
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