Boys’ water polo falls to crosstown rival

Julia Qiao and Soumya Jhaveri

Junior Alex Daw raises an axe to cheer for the team, and other students in the stands support him energetically. Photo: Soumya Jhaveri
Junior Alex Daw raises an axe to cheer for the Palo Alto High School boys’ water polo game in their game against Gunn High School on Thursday at Paly. Paly eventually fell to Gunn, 8-4. Photo: Soumya Jhaveri

The Vikings (4-6, 1-5) fell to cross-town rival, Gunn High School (8-2, 2-7), 8-4, in a highly anticipated league match Thursday.

 The Vikings felt the pressure early on as the Titans dominated the opening of the game, scoring five goals in the first half, with the only goal for Paly coming from sophomore Dexter Gormley.
The Vikings had hoped to defeat Gunn again after defeating them two weeks ago in a non-conference match, and attributed their loss to a lack of intensity and overconfidence.
“The team didn’t go into the game with a good mindset,” senior Will Parmeter said. “We thought that just because we beat Gunn two weeks prior that we would beat them again. It was because of this mindset that we ended up losing; we didn’t prepare well enough going into the game and not executing what we worked on.”
Paly Head Coach Aaron Johnson thought the team did not have enough ferocity during the majority of the game, and when the team began to regain momentum, it was too late.
“We just didn’t come off firing and we let them take the momentum for at least the first three quarters,” Johnson said. “Trying to play from behind isn’t easy. It was really too little effort and too late to come back so it was just a different atmosphere for us.”
While the game was intense, both sides had fun competing against each other.
“Gunn and Paly actually play together during the off season, so the Paly vs Gunn is always a fun rivalry game,” senior team captain Jack Anderson said.
Despite Paly’s struggle to match Gunn, the fans cheering for the team were relentless. The Paly section exploded with cheers whenever Gunn failed to score or when Paly regained position of the ball and scored. Students chanted cheers for a variety of reasons, even when a Gunn player was not wearing their helmet. Cheers of “where’s his helmet” and “safety first” were peppered amongst the classic Paly cheers such as “sko vikes!”
The cheering seemed to help the Vikings gain momentum, and the boys scored three goals in the second half.
“Cheering-wise, you have to give it all you’ve got,” junior fan Alex Daw said. “I’ve played in sports where no one has come out, and it kind of hurts your spirit because you’re doing this for your school.”
Anderson agrees, adding that the support from the fans helped lift the team’s spirits.
Having a crowd turn out for the game made it a whole lot more fun, even if we lost,” Anderson said. “We beat them [Gunn] in their house, they beat us in our house. I hope we get a chance to play them again in playoffs.
Looking forward, the team hopes to improve its record and score a spot at Central Coast Sectionals at playoffs.
“We’re hoping to just win the rest of them, it’s going to give us our best shot for a good seed in CCS and a position going through league playoffs so we’re just trying to put ourselves in the best position we can,” Johnson said.
The team takes on The Harker School at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Harker.