The Titans are back. Eastlake High School’s boys water polo team made a statement to open the 2011 season by engineering a sixth-place finish in the 32-team Poway Invitational , and made even more of an impact by defeating the Hilltop Lancers, 16-6, to face off Mesa League play on Sept. 14.
It was a ferociously focused EHS team that dismantled a previously unbeaten Hilltop squad in the teams’ league opener. The Titans used their lethal counter-attack to rack up a quick 3-0 advantage and moved out to a 9-2 halftime lead.
Adam Hilborn, who led Eastlake with six goals against the Lancers, said the team is using last year’s 20-0 quarterfinal loss to Vista as a motivating tool.
“That game showed us what we had to do if we wanted to play at the next level,” he said. “Our team goal this year is to be seeded No. 5 going into the CIF playoffs.”
The Titans’ showing at the Poway Invitational (finals took place Sept. 10 at Del Norte High School), should place them among the top five Division I teams. Torrey Pines defeated Granite Hills, 7-5, in the championship game, while El Camino and Santa Fe Christian both advanced to the semifinals. Eastlake dropped a 3-2 decision to University City in the fifth-place match. Both SFC and UC are lower division enrollment teams while Carlsbad and Vista, last year’s Division I finalists, did not participate in the tournament.
The Titans employed a balanced scoring attack against Hilltop. Mike Tong scored five goals while Dylan Chase had two goals and Josue Alvarez, Tyler Rowean and Johnny Velasquez each scored once. Brian Porter had nine goalie saves in two quarters of duty while Rhett McGinty was called on to make just one save in his two quarters of work in the cage.
The EHS defensive press made it difficult for the Hilltop offense to get untracked early on. “I think the first three or four goals were on the counter,” Titan coach Chris Barrick said. “We just wanted to be patient and not force anything. Press and counter, press and counter, press and counter. That’s what we’ve been practicing.”
Hilborn said continuity is the team’s strength this season — one that could set even higher standards for the varsity squad.
“Most of us have been together since freshmen, and the others joined the team the next year,” Hilborn said. “We play as a unit. We may be the best team to come from the South Bay.”
Hilltop’s Luis Ontiveros tallied two goals while Carlos Uribe, Rodrigo Perez, Tanner Franklin and Stuart Sokil each scored once.
The Lancers’ final two goals were highlights in their own right. Franklin eased in a three-quarter pool length shot just prior to the buzzer to end the third quarter while Sokil, rising high out of the water, scored on a five-meter penalty shot to close out scoring in the contest.
Eastlake followed up the win over Hilltop with a 14-5 non-league victory over host Patrick Henry on Sept. 16. Dylan Chase, Mike Tong and Daniel Lord each scored three goals for the Titans.
Granite Hills finishes second to Torrey Pines in Poway Invitational
It also appears the Granite Hills Eagles are back after setting a goal of a top four finish in this year’s San Diego Section playoffs. Following a runner-up finish in the 32-team Poway Invitational to jump-start the 2011 season, the Eagles’ flight path appears to be on course.
“We have a really solid group of starters this year,” GHS head coach Rhett Gaeir said. “I think by the end of the season this group will be up there with the top competition country-wide. Our guys are shooting for a top four finish. The Eagles are back.”
The Eagles entered the finals of this year’s Poway Invitational, held Sept. 10 at Del Norte High School, as the defending champions. This year’s championship game featured a rematch from last year’s tournament semifinals, one in which the Torrey Pines Falcons (5-1) captured in comeback fashion by a 7-5 score.
Granite Hills, which led 4-3 at halftime, saw its four-game winning streak to start the season end with the setback to Torrey Pines.
The Eagles and Falcons were tied 5-5 with 4:50 left to play when Rain Croteau-Hanson scored. Patrick Lenihan led the Falcons’ second-half comeback with two goals and an assist. He had an assist on teammate Geoff Francis’ deciding goal with 1:01 to play.
Thomas Hodgon-Krueger paced Granite Hills with two goals.
The Eagles defeated Santa Fe Christian, 9-5, in the semifinals while Torrey Pines rode the seven goals scored by Trevor Sauberbrey to sink El Camino 17-4.
With Carlsbad and Vista, last year’s section finalists, not competing in this year’s Poway Invitational, any early season rankings would likely have to have Granite Hills included among the top four teams.
The Eagles will compete in this weekend’s South Coast tournament in Irvine. Granite Hills opens Grossmont Hills League play Sept. 28 with a game against the Grossmont Foothillers at 5:30 p.m. at the Montgomery Middle School pool.
Gaeir expects the Foothillers and Valhalla Norsemen to challenge his team for this year’s league title. The Eagles finished 10-0 to win the league title last year.
This year’s GHHS team is braced by a pair of junior standouts: Hodgson-Krueger, a first team all-section selection last season, and goalie Kevin LeVine, a second team all-section pick in 2010.
Other starters include seniors Zach Wilbur, Luke Walker and Croteau-Hanson and juniors Jacob Kurtz and Darrough Riggs.
Croteau-Hanson, Wilbur and LeVine are serving as captains this season.
The 2011 Fall Classic is scheduled Sept. 23-24 at three East County pools: Grossmont, Helix and El Cajon Valley high schools.
Grossmont Conference entrants include Grossmont, Monte Vista, Helix and El Cajon Valley. Metro Conference entrants include Bonita Vista and Mater Dei Catholic. Also entered in the 22-team field are San Dieguito, Mission Hills, Mission Bay, San Pasqual, Point Loma, Clairemont, El Camino, San Marcos, Patrick Henry, Westview, High Tech High, University City, Valley Center, Mira Mesa, Canyon Crest Academy and San Juan Hills.
Medal-round games are scheduled Sept. 24 at Grossmont High School, starting at 2:40 p.m. The championship game is set for a 5:10 p.m. face-off.
Friday’s South Bay Invitational steps off at 3:30 p.m. at Rohr Park and features five races: junior varsity girls (3:30 p.m.), frosh/soph boys (4:10 p.m.), varsity girls (4:40 p.m.), varsity boys (5:10 p.m.) and JV boys (5:40 p.m.). The 2011 SBI will have only one division.
Team trophies will be awarded to the top three teams in both the boys and girls varsity races, with medals to the top seven runners on first- and second-place teams. Medals will also be presented to the top 35 individual runners.
Top Metro Conference finishers at last Saturday’s Mt. Carmel Invitational at Morley Field included Otay Ranch’s Carina Gillespie (second in the girls junior race) and Steven Martinez (third in the boys senior race).