Men’s Water Polo Passed by Taft
by Alex Barnes
Northside's men's water polo team suffered an unfortunate loss to Taft High School on April 10, losing 6-2. While they did play well, the Mustangs went into the game overconfident due to Taft’s poor reputation and paid the price.
Taft scored first, 28 seconds into the game, after a round of lofty passing. This play, like most of their others, felt clean and rehearsed--a sign that they had been practicing hard this season.
Northside took many shots, but most sailed over the goal or were thrown directly into the goalie’s chest. As far as setting up a play and getting the ball down to the opposition’s side of the pool, the team did really well. The team communicated well and hustled hard, but they could not convert shots.
The game heated up in the second quarter when Adam Toepfer, Adv. 807, scored Northside’s first goal. Seconds later, Taber Skiba, Adv. 902, took a hard skip shot, but the crowd sighed as it skidded inches outside of the goal.
The Mustangs attempted to rally during half time and charged into the third quarter with more energy than ever. The added aggression had the unfortunate side effect of getting more fouls called on the team--even resulting in a 5 meter penalty (when the other team gets a free shot from center into the goal). Luckily, this free shot sailed about a foot over the goal, but Taft was already ahead 5-1. The Mustangs took advantage of this moment, and Skiba scored the team’s second goal. The elevated enthusiasm persisted well through the rest of the quarter, but began to slow as the team began to tire out. The exhaustion was apparent when a pass by Lucas Hoffman, Adv. 906, hit Skiba in the head. The Mustangs pushed all the way through the last quarter, which came to a very anticlimactic end, as Jonah Brinkman, Adv. 010, took an impressive wet shot (a shot taken from swimming rather than pausing to shoot) after swimming the ball the entire length of the pool with only the help of one other team mate. However, the shot came up just short.
On a more positive note, the team was very strong defensively. Northside goalie Charles Wilber, Adv. 004, was doing vell well, passing the ball accurately and stopping many shots. Most impressively, he was very adept at blocking lob shots, which are deceptively loose shots taken from the far side. The players themselves also did their fair share of goalkeeping, stopping many shots and passes midair.
Overall, it was definitely not the team’s strongest game, but there were good elements. Robert Rogge, Adv. 801, said, “We were crushed, it was an off game.” The team still expects to do well in city and is proud of their season as a whole. Because their games are coming to an end, students should definitely come cheer them on, and can do so during their city championship games during the first week of May.