Water polo steal victories from South Bay, targets CIF

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As seen in the Nov. 8 issue

Jackson Prince, staff writer

With a 2-2 league record, the boys water polo team headed into their match against the El Segundo Eagles, a team they hadn’t beaten in two years. The pressure was mounting as the Normans understood the challenge of the task at hand. In addition, much like the team’s .500 record, the Swim-Gym pool water itself was stagnant due to a broken filter, leading to a change of venue.

With all of these factors working against them, the Normans could have just given up. However, upon arriving at the El Segundo pool, the Normans were ready to fight. And fight they did.

“Our team started off great in the first quarter,” senior driver David Kotlarenko said. “We were able to keep up the intensity throughout the whole game.”

With this intensity, regulation time ended with a tie score, 8-8. The Eagles and Normans entered overtime and, after each team scored once more, the game was forced into sudden death: whichever team scored first would win the match.

After a penalty gave the Normans the upper hand (a 6-on-5 scenario), junior attacker Justin Shegerian slammed in the winning goal, and the scoreboard read, “Eagles 9, Guest 10.”

“It was the most intense game I had ever played,” Shegerian said. “I had never seen our team so focused and passionate and I’m proud to say that I played a part in that experience.”

In their next league contest, the Normans returned home to a clean pool and squeaked out another close victory, 6-5, against Torrance, improving their record to 4-2.

Part of their improvement as a team came from a renewed emphasis on constant communication, as well as a stronger sense of camaraderie, according to junior center Michael Nassirzadeh.

“I think that the chemistry and communication we’ve developed this year have led us to greater success in the pool,” Nassirzadeh said.

Junior right-attacker Josh Louis saw improvement in ability and strategy as well.

“We’ve gotten better as water polo players and as a team, especially on defense,” he said.

The Normans, however, hit a snag at home on Nov. 4 as the team was defeated by Samo, 12-9, snapping Beverly’s five-game win streak.

In order to make the playoffs, the Normans must place as one of the top-three teams in the Ocean league. The Normans, however, have set their goal a bit higher than third place.

“We’re definitely going to CIF, but after losing to Samo we can’t place first,” Shegerian said. “However, I am confident that the team will come back stronger in tie for the playoffs.”

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