Fri, Sep 10 2010 03:41 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Eastlake High’s boys water polo team, winners of the last two Mesa League championships, has high hopes this season, and that season of possible plenty officially faced off Tuesday with a 15-4 non-league victory over the Helix Highlanders at Southwestern College.
The Titans started off slow and steadily built momentum in a game that otherwise looked like just what it was — a first game of the season.
“It was a sloppy game but our defense appears right there,” EHS coach Chris Barrick said. “We have to learn to be a little more patient on offense. We need to relax and let it develop rather than force things. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”
The Titans have reason to be optimistic after performing well in scrimmages against Poway, Rancho Buena Vista and Westview — all strong North County teams. Could this be the first Eastlake team to win a playoff match?
Barrick will have more answers after this weekend’s Poway Invitational. The Titans will play two games on Friday and conclude play in the regional-draw tourney with three games on Saturday.
Ian Muhlbach led Eastlake with six goals in Tuesday’s game. He was followed on the score sheet by teammate Adam Hilborn with four goals while Michael Tong scored twice and Daniel Lord, Dylan Chase and Tyler Rowean each scored once.
Rhett McGinty and Brian Porter shared goaltending duties, with Porter credited with three saves.
Hilborn, Tong, Chase and McGinty are all junior standouts.
Muhlbach, a senior, serves as team captain this year.
“He’s the fastest guy on the team, a very good swimmer, has a very strong arm and understands the game,” Barrick said in regard to Muhlbach.
This is Barrick’s sixth year coaching at EHS and he feels this team may be among the best he’s coached as far as overall balance, mental focus and physical prowess.
It also helps to have a multi-talented lineup.
“We really don’t have set positions,” Barrick said. “We just move the guys around so that other teams can’t focus on stopping someone at a particular position.”
The EHS coach said McGinty, the team’s starting goalie, has undergone “100 percent” improvement from last season. “He’s worked himself into the starter at the position,” Barrick said. “His passing has gotten a lot better.”
The Titans have just two seniors: Muhlbach and David Baldwin. Thus, the best could yet be in the making, though this season could very well be a record-setter.
“We’d like to be the first team at our school to go the farthest in the playoffs,” Muhlbach said.
Andrew Holt and Matt Vellone each scored twice for Helix in Tuesday’s contest.
Eastlake led 7-2 at halftime and 9-3 entering the final quarter.
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