On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the Loyola varsity water polo team took on Newport Harbor in a high-tension CIF Semi-Final game. While the Cubs went all-out during the second half, they unfortunately lost 9 to 6 to the Newport Harbor Sailors. The Cubs fell to a rival in the CIF Semi-Final for the second straight year after losing to Harvard-Westlake last year.
Newport looked hungrier going in to the game, and they showed it by blasting the Cubs in the first half and scoring on five of six attempts. The Cubs scored more goals in the second half than the Sailors did and were able to cut the Newport lead down to three goals at one point, but they ultimately fell short after missing some vital shots late in the third quarter.
Finishing on offense seemed to be a major issue for the Cubs during the game. Shooting nearly twice as many times as the Sailors, the Cubs went 6-for-27 (22.22%), a percentage paling in comparison to Newport’s 9-for-15 (60.00%). Senior Carson Kranz was Loyola’s leading scorer with two goals, with Seniors Travis Reynolds and Dylan Ortiz and Junior Kyle Thomas each scoring once. Luck was not on the Cubs’ side tonight, as five shots throughout the game came within inches of scoring but landed unlucky ricochets and bounced out.
Although he did not score any goals, senior Keegan Engstrom was the strongest link for the Cubs. A constant offensive threat and support player, Engstrom shone the brightest on defense tonight. Engstrom had three impressive momentum-altering steals that pumped some much-needed energy into the depleted starters. Engstrom’s most impressive play came in the fourth quarter, where he stole the ball on defense and countered all the way down into deep Newport territory. The ball found its way to Reynolds, who buried it in the back of the net. Engstrom nearly scored in the fourth quarter, but an unlucky Newport goalie tip bounced the fireball of a shot just out of the goal.
The Cubs underperformed offensively tonight, but their defense shows signs of what could have been. Newport was not able to shoot very often, but they unfortunately capitalized on every shot. One of Newport’s six total missed shots met Junior Colin Nicholls’ shot block early in the game, showing the defensive capabilities that the Cubs had trouble converting to offense.
Despite not having luck on their side, the Cubs did have creativity. Up by four in the final minute, the Sailors decided to hold the ball, so Senior Owen Hale dove underwater and snuck up on the unsuspecting Newport player with the ball. Much to the delight of the ecstatic Loyola parent section, Hale’s impressive and creative steal soon converted to offensive success, and the Cubs were able to cut Newport’s lead down to three goals during the last minute.
With CIF Championship hopes now out of the question, the Cubs have plenty of time to prepare for next year and bulk up to try and end the Semi-Final elimination streak.