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FAST reaches championship game of tourney


Last updated 2/9/2018 at 3:35pm

The Fallbrook Associated Swim Team water polo club reached the championship game of the 11th annual Pacific Winter Classic tournament.

The FAST 14-and-under coed team won three matches and lost only the final in the tournament held Jan. 13-14.

"We played really well," said FAST coach Doug Pearce. "It was really cool to watch."

FAST had 15 players. Only two of those were 14-year-olds and a majority of the team could have played in 12-and-under competition.

"I was really impressed," Pearce said. "They surprised me. I was expecting them to do well, but a lot of the kids are newer."

FAST had played in league competition over the past three years but the Pacific Winter Classic was the squad's first tournament in three years.

"I didn't know what to expect," Pearce said.

Pearce graduated from Fallbrook High School in 1995 and played for the 1993 Warriors team which won the CIF Division I championship under coach Joe Goss. He then played for the University of the Pacific under coach John Tanner, whose other activities at the time including coaching the United States national team.

"I have been fortunate enough to be coached by some of the best coaches," said Pearce.

Pearce was out of water polo for approximately 15 years before returning to help the growth of the FAST program.

"I'm very excited," said Pearce. "They are going to have great talent entering into Fallbrook High next year. They have a lot of speed, skills, and experience."

Pearce is Doug Pearce V. Doug Pearce IV played for Newport Harbor High School under coach Ted Newland. The FAST team includes Doug Pearce VI. "Polo is a family tradition," said Doug Pearce V.

Del Norte High School was the site of FAST's Jan. 13 matches and is also the home pool of the Pacific Water Polo club, which was FAST's initial opponent in the tournament.

"They're a well-coached team," said Pearce of Pacific.

FAST was able to take a 14-7 victory over Pacific. "Our players played pretty well," Pearce said.

Kai Maestas led the team with eight goals. Doug Pearce VI scored four goals. Brock Bushnell had the other two goals. Kayden Trafford led the team with three steals and also had one assist. FAST goalkeeper Anthony Hearn made eight saves and added a steal.

A 16-2 victory over the Escondido-based Riptide team gave FAST two wins for the first day of tournament play. "We did well," Doug Pearce V said.

Maestas had eight goals and Doug Pearce VI placed six shots into the net while leading the team with five steals. Hearn made five saves.

The margin of victory also allowed pool time for all of the FAST players. "We got to sub a lot, which was good," Doug Pearce V said.

That win placed FAST into the Jan. 14 semifinal at La Jolla High School's Coggan Pool. Valhalla High School's nickname is the Norsemen, and the Sons of Odin water polo club practices and plays home matches at Valhalla.

FAST had a multi-goal lead against Sons of Odin. "They came back," Pearce said. "They made a run for it."

The final Sons of Odin goal made the score 8-7 in FAST's favor with 15 seconds remaining. FAST was able to avoid a turnover and run out the clock.

That victory indicated that FAST was able to pull out close games when the necessity arose. "It was awesome," Pearce said.

Doug Pearce VI had five of the goals with Maestas scoring the other three and leading the team with five steals. Trafford, Pearce, and Jonathan Nelson added three steals apiece.

The Jan. 14 final at Coggan Pool pitted FAST against the Poway Valley "A" team. FAST overcame a 4-0 deficit after the first quarter to create a 9-9 score by the end of the third period, but Poway Valley ended the game with a 13-10 triumph.

"They were physically faster and stronger than us," Doug Pearce V said of Poway Valley.

Both the Poway Valley "A" team and Sons of Odin include high school players, and the size differential was evident when the players gave "high five" congratulations to each other after the games.

"It was really cool to watch the kids keep up," Pearce said. "They played really well."

Doug Pearce VI had six goals in the final. Trafford and Maestas each scored twice. Hearn made seven saves.

"We were able to control the two-meter on offense with Doug Pearce and Kaimana Maestas, with them taking turns rotating into the two," said Doug Pearce V. "The other teams had no answer to this threat. They finally were able to shut down the two-meter in the last quarter of the championship game by triple teaming Doug.

"Kayden Trafford controlled the two-meter on D (defense), not allowing any of the teams to get two-meter set and did a great job on creating ball movement on offense," continued Pearce V. "Anthony Hearn did a great job in the goal and shows continual improvement each game that he plays. The supporting cast of players did exceptionally well, especially the younger ones who had to step it way up to play against older, more physically matured, and experienced players."


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