Boys Water Polo 2019 Season Preview
September 2, 2019
Despite a number of ejections in the final minutes, the 2018 Paly boys water polo team held off rivals Los Altos to claim their first-ever CCS title. Seconds later, coaches and players were jumping into the pool in celebration, unable to contain their excitement. Months later, questions loom large over the team as they must replace many vital senior starters and improve upon the historic 2018 season.
In order to address the concerns, the team has taken up the challenge of working as hard and as long as they can. The reputation for the boys water polo practices is well-known, and considering that the first week of practice is referred to as “Hell Week,” it is safe to say that this team is not for the weak in spirit and determination. Led by senior captains Dexter Gormley, Dante Garetto and Ryan Stanley, this team has the potential to shatter records and surpass the expectations set by last season.
“We’re putting in the work and are shooting for Open Division CCS with the mindset to be the best public school team in the area,” Garetto said.
Although the departing class left some big shoes to fill, both in the talent as well as in the team leadership, many new upperclassmen are trying to stake their claims as the next great Paly water polo players. Most notably, junior Zander Darby, who was pulled up from JV last season and was a difference-maker in the CCS playoffs, and junior Spencer Soohoo, who replaces veteran goalie Ben Rappaport, have risen to the challenge.
“Our goalie, Spencer Soohoo, has made some great improvements in his skills and ability since last season,” Garreto said. “Although he isn’t Ben, I have faith he will serve well as our goalie this season.”
Despite losing Rappaport, the dynamic offense that helped propel Paly’s CCS championship is still mostly intact. The unstoppable duo of Ryan Stanley and Dexter Gormely were the face of the offense last year, and both are coming back for one final season.
“I’m excited about our team,” Soohoo said. “Our best field players from last year, Dexter and Ryan are both returning. We are changing our defense to play to my strengths as a goalie. Our team should be really good.”
A lot of the success from last season came after bringing in a new coaching staff. Paly alum Ethan Look assumed the head coach position last year and obviously had an outstanding first season. Despite the team’s performance, some believe that the year after a championship run results in an underwhelming season due to a sense of complacency, the dreaded “CCS Hangover.” But Coach Look is confident that this season will be even better than the last.
“It’s the exact opposite of the hangover, I would say we’ve got a taste in our mouth of what it was like,” Look said. “And we’re ready to come out here and prove to the entire CCS that [our championship] wasn’t a fluke.”
Sophomore transfer Nick Hoffs also impressed during the first couple weeks of practice, and combined with juniors Jonny Pei and Zander Darby, the supporting cast of the team is filling out nicely. Whatever the case may be, it’s safe to say that the Paly boys water polo team is prepared to accomplish great things this season and prove that last year’s championship was indeed no fluke.