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CHS water polo team muscles its way to victories

Claremont opened Palomares League play in familiar fashion on Tuesday with a decisive win over Bonita in La Verne. However, the last few weeks of non-league play were anything but rosy.

The very competitive Santa Barbara tournament went well, according to Coach Kristin Rodriguez. “It is the best we have ever done,” she said.

Unfortunately, the pool at Claremont High School was closed for two weeks for repairs, which was bad timing coming right before league play and the Villa Park Tournament last weekend.

“We had a tournament this past weekend and it was rough,” said Coach Rodriguez. “Thursday, we had two games. The second game was against a really good team and we came up short. We were kind of tired. You could see it in how we played. We played one on Friday and had nothing left and that was hard because the team [La Serna] was in our division.” The final score in the La Serna game was 9-6.

But as the Villa Park Tournament continued on Saturday, Claremont came back and did very well, defeating both Royal and Troy. “Troy is in our division, so that was a marker for us to see where we are,” Coach Rodriguez said.

On Tuesday against Bonita, Coach Rodriguez made frequent substitutions, which is not unusual when one gets five of six goals ahead but, as it turns out, she had another motivation.

During the Troy game two Claremont players were disqualified for getting three exclusions, which altered the subbing rotation drastically. An exclusion occurs when an official calls a foul deemed serious enough for the player to sit out for 20 seconds, giving the opponent the advantage.

“We got into foul trouble early in the game against Troy. We had seven kick-outs called against us in the first half, so it was very different personnel out in the field and we kind of did not know what to do,” said Coach Rodriguez. “So I am trying to make sure that does not happen again.”

On Tuesday, Claremont scored first on a powerful shot from junior Ian Waasdorp. The Pack went on to score three more before Bonita finally got on the board when Ethan Johnson-May found the net with 28 seconds left in the quarter.

The standout performance on the offense once again came from senior Bruno Snow, who scored again and again, even with two Bonita defenders covering his every move. He scored three goals in the second quarter alone, leading the Pack to a 7-1 lead before Coach Rodriquez took him out for a breather. But the damage was done and at halftime it was an 8-2 game.

“He [Snow] is our best defender and he’s active on offense and really quick, so it is hard to keep up with him,” Coach Rodriguez said.

Top performances also came from seniors Dylan Clinton and Lenning Davis, as well as junior Jack Kruze, who helped the Wolfpack keep a comfortable lead all the way to the 12-4 final.

Bonita definitely had some bad luck with shots going wide or hitting the goal post. However, the skill of Claremont goalkeeper Kellan Grant was on full display. Time and again, he came up with great saves denying the Bearcats a score.

“He [Grant] did really well today and this past weekend,” Coach Rodriguez said. “A lot of coaches were flustered with his performance. If we make a bonehead mistake, I feel like we have someone [Grant] who really has their back.”

Up next for Claremont will be the Ayala Bulldogs, which should be a tough match.

Bonita has already played and lost to Ayala, so even though Bonita has sustained quite a few injuries, it does give Claremont an idea of what to expect.

“Thursday should be a tough one. Ayala is looking pretty good,” Coach Rodriguez said.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com