The Palo Alto High School boys’ water polo team (12-12, 8-5) will open its Central Coast Section playoffs campaign against Saint Francis High School at 11:30 a.m on Saturday at Los Altos High School.
Despite losing to Saint Francis 10-6 earlier in the season, the Vikings believe that they can right the ship this time around. Junior Jared Stanley attributed the loss to a sluggish start and emphasized the importance of having the right mindset going into the game.
“We have played them before but we didn’t come out firing in the first couple of minutes,” Stanley said. “We really need to come out hard in the first minutes of this game in order to set the tone.”
According to Stanley, going into the quarterfinal game, the Vikings have the right mentality needed to win.
“We had a really good focused practice today, so I believe we are more than capable of coming out with a win against Saint Francis,” Stanley said. “We know our match ups and it’s going to be a great game.”
Junior Andrew Jozefov says that the team has specifically been working on the team’s defense during practice this week in order to prepare for Saint Francis.
“To prepare ourselves for this game, we have been working on sharpening our one-on-one drive defense because that was our biggest weakness last time we lost to them this season,” Jozefov said. “This time we know that our drive defense, our press and our crash on set will be better and sharper because we know that they [Saint Francis] had trouble against it last time.”
Jozefov also highlighted Bellarmine, a team they have not played this season and Gunn, a team they split their series with this season, as teams that will be tough in their CCS playoff bracket.
“The tough teams this year in CCS are Bellarmine and Gunn,” Jozefov said. “To beat Gunn all we need to do is have the same focused mentality and drive to win. In order to beat Bellarmine, we will need to play some great counter-defense and really communicate to each other on defense to stop their quick and effective counter.”
The Vikings are optimistic that they will reach the CCS finals, a season-long goal.
“We are very excited going into CCS because this is what the whole season has led to,” senior Winston Rosati said. “We want to win and I think if all the parts come together it is possible. I am excited and hopeful.”