Coach James Lathrop has been preaching all season the virtues of a relentless, lockdown defense and a balanced, patient offense. It looks like his MATS water polo team has been listening. In their most complete game of the season against a quality opponent, the Men's Varsity Water Polo team crushed the upset minded Las Lomas Knights 11-4.
It was a physical game from the outset. Coming out of the gate swinging, the MATS executed their game plan flawlessly. Featuring a deadly combination of speed and power, the MATS offense was clicking from the opening whistle. The MATS turned to their hole sets early and often. Getting the ball inside to Junior Jordan Hoover, who led all scorers with 4 goals on the night, and Junior Jack Conner, who talled two more goals, the MATS jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead and never looked back. And as has been their pattern all season, the MATS offense was characterized by breadth of scoring - 7 MATS scored in the contest.
Perhaps even more impressive was their defense, which limited the Knights to only four goals. Anchored by Junior goalkeeper Evan Pauletich, who tallied a whopping 16 saves on the night, the defense was relentless and stingy. Pauletich turned in his best game to date, holding prolific scorers Torrigino and Kessler to three total goals by making acrobatic save after acrobatic save. "It all starts with our defensive front six," said Pauletich after the game. "When out guys close the lanes and pressure the ball, they make my job easy."
The MATS also had the advantage of the "Matador 8th Man". The crowd, which was standing room only to the edge of and around the entire poolside deck, was racous from the outset, and the student section provided the extra boost the MATS needed. "I love the fans. The 8th man was epic," said Senior Trevor Whitsitt. "We feed off of the energy of the crowd," said Pauletich. Added Senior Clay Smudsky, "Thanks to Mats Polo 8th man for comin out tonight. The atmosphere was LIVE! Bring that same Intensity this weekend at the final."
Now the MATS move on to the NCS Finals - a familiar place for them. Their opponent is rival Campolindo, who is coming off an impressive win of their own against last year's San Ramon Valley. Although this is new territory for Campolindo, do not expect them to be a pushover. Like the MATS, they rely a strong and disciplined defense to generate opportunities for offense. The MATS will have to turn in another flawless performance if they are to repeat as NCS Champions. But they are playing their best ball of the year at the right time, and when they play Coach Lathrop's brand of water polo, they are a tough team to beat.
GO MATS...BEAT CAMPO!
Tag(s): Water Polo (Boys V)