Fallbrook High School’s boys water polo team placed third among the 32 teams in the Poway Invitational tournament September 11-13.
The Warriors won four of their five games, losing only to eventual champion Cathedral Catholic. “In that regard you don’t feel bad,” said Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont.
The Warriors opened their season September 10 at Rancho Buena Vista and lost 11-10 to the Longhorns. “It was a wake-up call for the team,” Lamont said.
Lamont felt that the Warriors played better in the tournament than they did against Rancho Buena Vista. Fallbrook opened the tournament with two September 11 games at Granite Hills High School, defeating Serra by a 16-5 score and University City in a 6-5 result.
The win over University City was achieved after one Fallbrook starter was majored for receiving three ejections in the first quarter. (In water polo an ejection is a 20-second penalty in which the team with the ejected player must play short-handed. A player who receives three ejections in a game is removed for the rest of the game; that situation is called “rolled,” “majored” or “excluded.”)
“The bench had to come up big for us,” Lamont said. “That was a total team effort.”
The Warriors returned to Granite Hills for a September 12 game against Granite Hills and defeated the Eagles by a 12-11 margin. “I thought we showed a lot of heart,” Lamont said.
Fallbrook trailed 7-4 at halftime and 10-7 after three periods. “We really turned it on in the fourth quarter,” Lamont said.
In the final 20 seconds a Warrior ejection gave the Eagles a man-up advantage. “Our goalie Ryan Helling came up with a super stop,” Lamont said.
The fact that Fallbrook came back against a team in its own pool was not lost on Lamont. “As a coach that’s a very encouraging sign,” he said.
Fallbrook’s two September 13 games were played at Poway High School. In the semifinals Cathedral Catholic advanced to the championship match with a 17-9 win over the Warriors. “They just outplayed us,” Lamont said.
The game was tied at two goals apiece after one quarter, but the Dons had a 9-5 lead at halftime. “They were pretty dominant from there on out,” Lamont said.
In the championship game Cathedral Catholic defeated Torrey Pines, who is one of Fallbrook’s Avocado League opponents this year, by a 14-8 score. The Warriors, who open Avocado League competition October 8 at San Pasqual, will face Torrey Pines in Fallbrook’s home opener October 15.
The third-place game saw Fallbrook face Poway at the Titans’ pool and earn an 11-6 victory. “We got ahead early and never looked back,” Lamont said.
Jacob Pril scored 30 goals in the tournament, including nine in the final game. Helling’s 51 saves included 11 in the match against Poway. Kai Bowman led the Warriors with 12 steals during the tournament, and Russell Barrett paced Fallbrook with eight assists in the five games.
The win over Poway also gave the Warriors a winning season record following the tournament, as Fallbrook concluded the Poway Invitational with a 4-2 overall mark.
“We’re off to a good start,” Lamont said. “We’ve still got some work to do to get to the level of a Cathedral Catholic or Carlsbad, but we’re going to be able to hold our own in a lot of games this year.”
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