After graduating eight quality senior players last season — four of them first team all-league selections — Eastlake High School boys water polo coach Chris Barrick felt this season might be, in his words, “a bit of a rebuilding year.”
It hasn’t proven to be the case, at least so far.
“All of our players have worked very hard from the end of last season and — to a man — have improved dramatically,” Barrick said. “Though not as deep as we were last season, our starting group should be very competitive at the Division I level again this year.
“We have a dramatically improved JV squad this season — the best new crop of freshmen in Eastlake’s history. We have 14 new freshmen who show very good potential.
“Our team philosophy has always been to build from the bottom up and this year is no exception. Our goals are to win a fifth consecutive league title and work our way into the quarterfinals of the CIF (playoff) tournament.”
The Titans defeated defending Division II champion Serra, 11-4, as part of last weekend’s seventh annual Draz Classic at Coronado High School.
Senior Josue Alvarez led Eastlake in scoring with five goals while seniors Daniel Lord and Jian Miclat each scored twice, senior Daylon DeAlva scored once and junior Johnny Velasquez had one goal.
Junior goalie Ricky Gonzales registered 10 blocks in the cage and played, in Barrick’s words, “extremely well.”
“The boys played well for the first time out,” the EHS coach said. “We swam and countered well and our defense was very tough.”
Barrick noted that up-and-coming sophomores Kyle Schauer, Kyle DeAlva and Kyle Kowalski all received a significant number of minutes in the water and played well in the game.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with the way the boys are shaping up for this season,” Barrick said.
Alvarez and Lord were both second team all-league picks last season. Also helping anchor this year’s team will be Miclat and senior classmate Jian Laxina, both of whom have “improved nicely over the off-season to become quality starters,” according to the EHS coach.
Velasquez will be the team’s primary two-meter set. “He has worked very hard through the off-season to become a force at two meters,” Barrick said.
The same work ethic applies to Gonzales, the EHS coach said.
“Ricky has made huge strides in guarding the cage and will give us stability (in the goalie position),” Barrick said.
Kyle DeAlva and Schauer will split time as the team’s sixth man while seniors Noah Schenk and Daylon DeAlva will round out the 2012 varsity squad.
“Sophomores Kyle DeAlva and Kyle Schauer have also improved dramatically and will give us quality minutes at the varsity level this season,” Barrick said.
Titans sink Eagles with fourth quarter rally
The defending Mesa League champion Eastlake Titans opened the 2012 high school boys water polo season with a 12-9 non-league victory against the San Pasqual Eagles Tuesday night (Sept. 4) at Southwestern College.
The Titans and Eagles went into the fourth quarter tied at eight goals apiece before the hosts pulled out the victory.
“We finally played pressing defense like we’re capable and were patient on the offensive side of the ball,” EHS coach Chris Barrick said. “A little bit of a rocky start to the season, but we survived.”
Two of Eastlake’s fourth-quarter goals came on the 6-on-5 advantage with Johnny Velasquez and Josue Alvarez drawing ejections.
Alvarez led the Titans with six goals while Daniel Lord scored five times and Velasquez had one goal.
Eastlake will next participate in the annual Poway Invitational, starting with a game Thursday against La Jolla Country Day at 2:30 p.m. at Grossmont High School.