Boys Water Polo: Blazers upset Miners in season finale
Golden West defeated El Diamante 17-13 to knock them out of first place in the WYL
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
VISALIA – Coming into the Oct. 30 game, El Diamante had positioned themselves as a strong favorite to finish atop the Division II standings and the WYL. They were 14-0 against Division II opponents before they were upset by the Golden West.
The Trailblazers hadn’t defeated El Diamante since the end of the 2017 season. They came into the match a game below .500, but played an inspired game against the Miners. Golden West came out strong with two goals in less than two minutes of the game starting. El Diamante responded well with two quick goals of their own, but the Blazers kept the momentum on their side. From that point on, they outscored the Miners 4-1 to take a 6-3 lead after the first quarter.
The two teams played each other evenly during the second quarter as they each traded two goals. After the halftime break, the Blazers started to pull away. They outscored El Diamante 4-2 as they headed into the fourth quarter with a 12-7 lead.
Realizing the game was slowly slipping away, the Miners tried their hardest to make a final push to get back into the game. Golden West head coach Erik Schlick called several timeouts to slow the game down and helped his team remain focused while preserving their lead.
“I tried to focus as much as I could on making sure the guys were calm,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they held the ball and used the full 30 seconds of the shot clock.”
He relied heavily on his seniors to take control of the game and lead the team to victory. Dawson Epp and Taylor Harris showed their maturity as they led the way for the Blazers. Epp ended with six goals and three assists and Harris ended with seven goals. According to Schlick, the team struggled early in the season to play cohesively and they would usually rely heavily on one or two players to score. However in the game against the Miners, they fixed that issue as six different players were able to score. It led to a 17-13 victory.
The Blazers ended the year on a five-game winning streak, their longest of the season. After going 7-2 against intra-conference opponents, they are a lock for the Division II playoffs. As for El Diamante, they needed a win to secure a finish atop the West Yosemite League. Since they loss and Redwood defeated Mt. Whitney in their final game, the Rangers are the 2019 WYL champions.