Paly boys’ water polo defeats Gunn Titans 13-12 to advance onto CCS semifinals

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JJ Kadifa (’14) looks for an open pass. The Paly Vikings went on to defeat the Gunn Titans 13-12, moving onto the CCS semifinals next week.

Sheila Subramanian, Staff Writer

In the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section (CCS) championships, Palo Alto Vikings’ boys water polo made a significant comeback to beat the Gunn Titans 13-12 after losing to the Titans three times prior, advancing them to the semifinals.

Head coach Brandon Johnson praised his team’s winning performance.

“We have little things to tweak here and there for our next game like to tighten up our drive defense a little bit but I think that was the best game we’ve played all year, by far,” Johnson said.

The game started off quickly with Gunn winning the first sprint, gaining possession of the ball. The Titans quickly scored the first goals of the game, bringing their team to an early lead.

Paly’s Sam Kelley (‘14) scored the first goal for the Vikings in the first quarter of the game. Kelley scored yet another two goals, bringing the score to 4-3 Titans at the beginning of the second quarter.

The Vikings’ defense remained strong throughout the rest of the first half, allowing the Titans to score only once the entire quarter. Paly trailed Gunn at the end of the first half with a score of 5-3.

The Titans started off the second half with a fast shot within the first couple minutes. The Vikings suffered from multiple turnovers in favor of Gunn at the beginning of the third quarter. Kelley scored the first goal of the second half for the Vikings just before Gunn’s Ari Wayne (‘15) found the net, scoring off of a 5-meter penalty.

The Vikings picked up their game towards the end of the third quarter and put away multiple shots. Ethan Look (‘14) scored after a Gunn ejection during a 6-on-5 setup. Lukas Novak (‘14) scored a goal, which tied the game 6-6. Paly’s Andrew Josefov (‘17) earned Paly yet another point, but the Titans came back to score two goals and finished third quarter in the lead 8-7.

Paly jumped in the lead with Winston Rosati (‘16) scoring two goals at the start of the fourth quarter and Josefov putting away a shot after another Gunn ejection. With three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Titans scored one goal and brought the score to 10-9 with Vikings holding on to their lead.

The Vikings suffered from multiple ejections with both Rosati and Kelley getting majored in the last few minutes of the game. Both teams scored goals one after another, but a 5-meter called against Paly earned the Titans a point to tie up the game at the end of the fourth quarter, 11-11.

Paly racked up goals at the start of overtime, with both Kian McHugh (‘14) and Novak each scoring a goal. Gunn put away a shot in the last 54 seconds in overtime, making the final score of the game a close 13-12 with Paly securing their lead for a win.

Look commented on his team’s victory and intense game against Paly’s cross-town rival.

“It’s tough going down three times to a team, especially Gunn, so it felt good to come back with an opportunity in the quarterfinals, single elimination, and really show them what we got as a team.”

The Vikings will play against Bellarmine College Preparatory this Tuesday in the CCS semifinals. The time and location is to be announced.