Boys’ varsity water polo team faces defeat in rivalry game against Archie Williams High School

Carsen Goltz

On the evening of Oct. 13, the stands surrounding the Redwood pool were teeming with spectators eager to witness the ensuing action. The varsity boys’ water polo team faced off against their rival, Archie Williams (formerly Drake), and suffered a defeat of 9-12. 

Only a few months prior, Redwood had faced a stinging loss on a buzzer-beater goal against Archie Williams for a final score of 12-13. Assistant varsity water polo coach Scott Gregory, who has been at Redwood for ten seasons and coached the boys for the past eight years, believes that the close-call game would push the players to perform at their best during this match. 

Leaping from the water, senior Dylan Zorn lines up his shot with the goal of putting Redwood back in the lead.

“It’s so hard because we know how close it is, and there’s so much passion and energy going into it from the players. You just have to hope the mental preparation for our team is a little bit better than the other team,” Gregory said. 

Going into the game, senior Marco Asiano, third-year varsity player and captain of the team, was nervous for the way Redwood may play, given past encounters with Archie Williams.

“It’s always going to be a tight game with them, they’re a really disciplined team,” Asiano said. 

Archie Williams has been undefeated since 2014 and had a win-loss ratio of 14-0 as of Oct. 12. They seemed to still be going strong as the game started, taking the first goal in the starting quarter. Not long after, Redwood tied it back up, and the first quarter was filled with action; both teams swapping blows and goals. 

Throughout the beginning of the game, Asiano was keen on keeping the team’s focus on what they could control and off the rapidly changing score.

“We really needed to maintain a cool mindset and not let the lead, if we had [one], get away from us,” Asiano said. 

In the second quarter, Redwood scored two more goals and took the lead at 4-3 with five minutes and 23 seconds left in the half. With just over a minute left on the clock, Archie Williams scored another two goals and reclaimed the lead with a score of 4-5. 

According to Rudy Kardos, Redwood’s head coach for the last 13 years, Archie Williams is a very adaptable team. Redwood had made efforts to block Archie Williams’ offense, but at halftime, Archie Williams discussed their strategy and came out even stronger, picking apart Redwood’s counter.

“We changed [our defense] up a little and it worked well [for] the first half, and then they started to figure out what we [were] doing, and we had to change it up again, [since] our guys are not fast enough to adjust and recognize where the main threat players are,” Kardos said. 

Archie Williams’ offensive shift allowed them to regain their lead. They scored six goals during the 4th quarter, while Redwood managed only three. Facing repeated goals from the opponent, Asiano tried to keep his team’s heads level. 

“We knew we were going to have mistakes, we knew that was going to eventually happen whether or not we liked it, so we needed to maintain our cool and play one possession at a time,” Asiano said.

However, Asiano’s efforts to boost the team’s morale were not enough, as Archie Williams’ use of the clock allowed them to come out victorious. 

“At the end, we ran out of time. … You could see that in the last [few] minutes. [Archie Williams] was just passing the ball, trying to kill the clock and use their full time off of the shot clock,” Kardos said. “We had our opportunities, and we let them go. In a game like this, every single position counts, and if you leave something on the table, you’ll never be able to go back and get it.”

Rising from the pool, defenders Max Matthews and Aiden Squiers position themselves in hopes of blocking an attempted shot.

 Archie Williams head coach Matthew Swanson, who claims to be commonly called Swanny, has been coaching Archie Williams water polo for 22 years and was pleasantly surprised by the game’s result. 

“We knew it was going to be close,” Swanny said. “We know every time we play [Redwood] that it’s going to be a [close] game, so we [luckily] got that nice goal at the end to give us a little cushion, but next time we play them it’s gonna be another one-goal game.”

Kardos shares a similar sentiment to Swanny but looks optimistically towards the future and their next encounter in the pool, which will be during the playoffs on Oct. 30.

“I’m proud of us, [the team] left their hearts in the water, and it just wasn’t our day today,” Kardos said. 

Despite the loss, Asiano is confident about Redwood’s chances of winning the championship this year.

“I think everyone saw that [Archie Williams] isn’t the dream team that they used to be, and we have a genuine chance of winning MCAL’s (Marin County Athletic League) [this year] for sure,” Asiano said.