CHS water polo ends league on a roll

In competitive sports it takes great planning and some luck to reach peak performance right as playoffs begin. The Claremont High School boys water polo team did just that by ending Palomares League play with a six-game winning streak. It was capped off with a decisive 12-6 win over visiting Flintridge Prep Rebels, in the first round of CIF competition.

The only downside to peaking late is Claremont fell just shy of catching first place Alta Loma—despite defeating the Braves—and must settle for second place in league.

On Tuesday against the Rebels, the Pack wasted no time setting the pace, scoring two goals early in the pool. The Rebels could only watch as Claremont quickly piled up a four-point lead before they scored. At the end of the first quarter, Claremont was up 6-1.

With a five-goal cushion, Claremont Coach Kristin Rodriguez began rotating in players who had not seen as much pool time during the regular season. But the boys rose to the occasion, maintaining that five-goal margin to 8-3 at the halftime whistle.

In the third quarter, the Rebels made a bit of a comeback, which fired up their rather vocal crowd of fans. About halfway through the period, Claremont was ahead by seven, but Flintridge got a great steal and score. They followed with another goal, but the big Wolfpack lead was too much to overcome.

The win was not unexpected, and in the final quarter Claremont regained momentum, cruising to the 12-6 final.

Unforced errors cost the Rebels dearly, particularly with passes that missed the mark and resulted in turnovers. A number of shots were close, just missing by hitting the goalpost.

Claremont, on the other hand, had too many fouls resulting in exclusions. Fortunately for the Pack, the Rebels had a hard time capitalizing on those penalties, failing to score three times when Claremont was down a player. The Wolfpack will not be that fortunate as the tournament progresses facing tougher teams.

Claremont got a solid performance from both of their goalkeepers, Enrique Roybal, who played during the first half and Matteo Velasquez, who was in the net for the second.

“We were able to play some of our athletes who had never played varsity before,” Coach

Rodriguez said after the game. “Thursday is going to be tough, I am pretty sure it will be King. They have some good players across the board, they are a solid team and so it is not reliant on one player.”

The next game was in fact King and was played on Thursday after the Courier’s press time.

Coach Rodriguez received an unsolicited compliment from a parent who said she has created a good atmosphere for the boys.

“With the amount of time we spend together I think the team understands that if I give them criticism it’s to make them better. I try to make them understand that if I am pulling them out it is to give them a second chance to fix [a mistake],” she said.

Regarding the exclusion, Coach Rodriguez agreed they would have to work on reducing penalties before the King game.

“I think it [penalties] results from the hype of the game and we have talked about it. I think when a team is more evenly matched there is more of a flow. Still, we definitely have to keep composure for Thursday.”

The Claremont Wolfpack is now 15-12-1, 8-2 in league.

—Steven Felschundneff


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