Max Stahl, staff writer
In front of an audience that filled half the Swim-Gym, the boys’ varsity water polo team lost to El Segundo 14-7 in its first league game on Oct. 3, lowering its overall record to 7-7 and its league record to 0-1.
El Segundo struck first, scoring a goal 19 seconds into the game and then another with 5:06 left in the first quarter. Captain Ariel Rafalian scored the first goal for Beverly with 3:57 left in the quarter. When the quarter ended, El Segundo led 4-2.
During the opening two minutes of the second quarter, the players on both teams moved the ball back and forth across the pool, but nobody scored. With 4:59 remaining, Rafalian scored his second goal of the game to bring Beverly within one point.
El Segundo responded with three straight goals, making the score 7-3. With 48 seconds remaining in the half, junior David Kotlarenko scored, his first of the game.
“We played a good first part of the game,” Kotlarenko said, “And then we just got confused and we froze up a bit.”
After three scoreless minutes, Beverly scored the first goal of the second half. El Segundo responded with two of its own, advancing its lead to 9-5. With 3:45 remaining in the quarter Rafalian scored his third goal of the game, and El Segundo responded with another two goals, making the score 11-6 at the end of the third quarter.
El Segundo opened the fourth quarter with three goals, extending its lead to 14-6. With 1:09 remaining, Rafalian scored, the last of the game for either team. As the clock counted down its last 20 seconds, El Segundo sat on the ball, sealing its 14-7 victory.
“There were a couple times we fell apart and it ended up costing us a lot of easy goals,” junior Keon Youssefzadeh said. “In reality, it should’ve been a much closer game.”
Rafalian assessed that his team needs to work on its communication and its defense.
“I made one mistake on defense, leaving the guys open, and it led to a goal for the other team,” he said.
Despite his four-goal and one-assist performance, Rafalian identified areas where he could improve.
“Offensively, I have to put my shots in frame and relax while I shoot, not shoot as quickly,” he explained.
Varsity’s next game is at home on Oct. 9 against Torrance.