Paly boys’ water polo stomps Pioneer 14-4 in first round of CCS playoffs

The Palo Alto High School’s boys’ water polo team (16-12 overall, 9-3 in league) defeated Pioneer 14-4 in the first round of Central Coast Sectionals (CCS) playoffs on Nov. 8th, an outcome that did not surprise Scott Kaubish, Pioneer’s head coach.

“[Our expectations coming into the game] were pretty much the way they were,” Kaubish said. “We knew we were coming in as 11th seed going against number six [in CCS]. Palo Alto is a strong, well-coached team. I told my guys just to get out there and fight; take what they can.”

Bret Pinsker (‘13) got the Vikings off to a quick start, scoring his 61st goal of the season only moments into the first quarter.

Joe O’Brien (’14) responded with a goal for Pioneer tying the score 1-1 but Paly was quick to fight back.

Paly’s lead began with an assist from Nelson Perla-Ward (‘15) to co-captain Aaron Zelinger (‘12). Perla-Ward then continued to score a goal of his own.

Pinsker added his second goal of the night to Paly’s 5-1 lead.  The Vikings continued to prove their strength with tough endurance, denying the Mustangs any more goals before the first buzzer sounded.

Palo Alto’s dominance did not stop there. After allowing in only one goal from O’brien for the entire second quarter, the Vikings were able to maintain their lead, finishing the half at 8-2.

By the third quarter most of Paly’s starting players were on the bench.  However the younger group in the pool, composed partly of players recently moved up from JV to the varsity squad, managed to keep up with the pace that was set in the first half of the game, maintaining tight defense and strong shots. Perla-Ward and Will Conner (‘14) controlled the ball for the remainder of the quarter, working together to bring the score to 10-2.

After Pioneer and Paly scored one goal a piece at the beginning of the fourth quarter, O’brien found the back of the net for the fourth and final time, single-handedly putting the Mustangs’ four goals on the scoreboard. Sam Kelley (‘14) and Nolan Perla-Ward (‘13) followed with four consecutive goals for the Vikings, commanding the game 11-4.

Rather than being upset by the loss, Kaubish is thankful for the opportunity that this game has allowed for his players to learn from the Vikings’ skills and experience.

“There are a lot of very good fundamentals that Palo Alto plays with and great legs and shooting skills,” Kaubish said.  “I hope that my team can see some of that and pick up on some of the skills that they have and see what [Palo Alto players] are doing.”
Kaubish recognized the Paly team’s players and coaches alike.
“[The game] was against a team with good athletes and good coaching” Kaubish said.

Giovanni Napolitano, Paly’s head coach, thanks their success to his team’s progress in their ability to work cohesively.

“They played like a team; they were united,” Napolitano said.  “Everybody helped each other and when we play like a team we can win against good teams.”

This win has qualified the Vikings for the 2nd round of CCS playoffs. Their next game will be against the Menlo-Atherton Bears this Satuday, Oct. 12th.