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CHS water polo win secures lock on first place

The team that had no home found its way to a league championship on Tuesday, with a convincing 8-4 win over a resilient Glendora Tartans at GHS.

Barring any late season hiccups, the 7-1 Pack, now has an exclusive hold on first place and a Palomares League pennant. For the time being, the Tartans and Alta Loma are tied for second with 6-2 records, but that will change later this week when they face each other in a penultimate league match.

With a bit of irony, the homeless Wolfpack hosted Colony at Pomona College on Wednesday. The arrangement was made possible because the Titans don’t have JV or freshman teams, so the Pack only needed about an hour of pool time versus the three or four hours for a full match. Results were not available as of press time, however, the Pack defeated Colony, 19-4, in the first round. Regular season comes to a full stop when Claremont travels to La Verne to face Bonita on Tuesday.

At Glendora the Pack had a much harder time putting the Tartans away. Glendora scored on its very first possession, putting the Pack in catch up mode. However, the boys wasted little time tying the game with a goal less than 30 seconds later.

If that first minute of play seemed to foretell a high scoring game, that would be a mistake, as both teams brought supercharged defenses to the match. Claremont received great performances from both goalkeepers, senior Enrique Roybal and Matteo Velasquez, while the Tartans did a fine job keeping Claremont from putting the ball in front of the net.

A goal from freshman George Roby-Unkovich at the 4:30 mark in the first quarter put Claremont in the lead, followed by another from sophomore Marcus Robles a minute and a half later. But that was the last goal of the first half for Claremont as the Tartans, and some bad luck, stifled every chance the Pack got in the second quarter. Glendora did score in the second, resulting in a 3-2 game at the halftime whistle.

Glendora apparently switched up its defensive game in the second half, which benefited the Pack because it was the exact defense they had been expecting and practicing for all week. As a result, Claremont went on a four-point winning streak before the Tartans could answer in the middle of the fourth period. At that point it was too late for Glendora, as there was not enough time to make up the gap.

It has been an exciting week for the varsity water polo team, as their previous match against Alta Loma went into a rare sudden death overtime. Claremont did finally win that game, 8-7, in the third overtime period.

The tight games will be a blessing for the Pack as the boys prepare for the CIF championships—particularly if they can channel the tight and well coordinated play from that game against Alta Loma.

“Overall our offense was very patient, but had that hustle about it, which kept their defense off guard,” Coach Kristin Rodriguez said about the Alta Loma match. “One of our players, s, just went to town and had four goals. He just found the shot and put it on cage, put it where it needed to be. Defensively we worked really well together as a team, especially the second half and into the overtime.”

At practice over the next week, Coach Rodriguez will be working on drills to focus the team’s quick thinking and speedy reactions.

“We have been defining what it means to hustle versus what it means to rush. So, they will rush through thought rather than hustle to get the ball and then slow down to make sure it’s the right thought. So various drills will focus on their quick processing and figuring out the best decision to make,” Coach Rodriguez said.

Coach Rodriguez has also been busy lately leading a cadet girls squad for Team USA. For the first time next year, the 16 and under team will be participating in the World Championships which will be in Greece in June of 2020.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com