The Palo Alto High School boys’ water polo team (1-1, 1-0) came out firing in their league and home opener Tuesday afternoon, defeating the Monta Vista Matadors (0-1, 0-1), 17-7.
In the Vikings’ first home game since the 2014 season due to the construction of the new Peery Family Center athletics facility, Paly played with a confidence and energy that the Matadors had no response for.
“Our goal with every game is to come out super aggressive and dictate the pace of the game from the first play,” head coach Aaron Johnson said. “We want to get teams on their heels and push for four quarters.”
The Vikes opened the game with a flurry of scoring in the first quarter and never looked back. Senior Jack Andersen fired three shots past the Monta Vista goalie and sophomore Ryan Stanley added a pair of goals, contributing to an imposing seven-goal lead at the end of the first quarter, 7-0.
“To have our first game be such a widespread success with eight players scoring goals with only five returning varsity players out of our current roster of 18 was really encouraging,” Andersen said. “Our mindset was to improve our overall team chemistry during the game as we have important games against Los Altos and Saint Francis later this week.”
Palo Alto was aggressive on their defensive side of the pool, swarming and drowning any Monta Vista players who tried to make a move towards the Vikes’ goal.
However, the Matadors were able to secure the sprint to open the second quarter and scored a goal off a deflected shot that left junior goalie Ben Rapperport helpless.
After that, Rapperport made several saves that led to transition goals for Paly early in the second quarter, squashing any hope of a Matador comeback, to create a, 12-3, Viking lead at halftime.
“We were able to force their weaker shooters to shoot,” Rapperport said. “Then we would pass the ball down the pool for a counter goal.”
Paly continued to execute well in the pool and coasted comfortably to the final buzzer.
“It is a great thing to get the league play started out with a win,” Johnson said. “It sets the tone and helps create the winning atmosphere we want to have in our program. It creates the positive momentum that is crucial to be a successful team.”
The Vikings will take on its league foe, the Los Altos Eagles (2-1, 0-0), in an away game at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday and then play a non-league game against the Saint Francis Lancers (0-0, 0-0) at home at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.