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Redwood Bark

Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity water polo’s successful season comes to an end in CIF loss to San Luis Obispo

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, boys’ varsity water polo squared off with San Luis Obispo High School in the quarterfinals of the Division II CIF Norcal Boys Water Polo Championship. Seeded fourth, Redwood entered on a five-game winning streak, previously winning the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) and North Coast Section (NCS) championships in a string of tight matches. San Luis Obispo entered red hot as the fifth seed, having won 18 straight games before finally losing their previous match against Buchanan High School in the Division I Central Section Championship. 

San Luis Obispo’s offense took control early, peppering Redwood’s goal with shots from all distances. Sophomore Owen Malone, replacing injured starting goalie Will Rauzi, made some strong saves. However, the Giants’ defense allowed a multitude of open shots, allowing San Luis Obispo to take a quick lead. Senior Theo Eschliman kept the game close, scoring a five-meter penalty shot and another impressive goal late in the first quarter to make the score 5-3 in favor of San Luis Obispo. 

Redwood’s offense came to life in the middle of the second quarter, with Eschliman scoring his third goal of the game and junior Ossie Joplin tacking on two more. Redwood’s offensive strategy contrasted San Luis Obispo’s strategy of deep shooting; the Giants emphasized making the difficult pass to the hole set position located in the middle of the defense and then taking shots with close proximity to the goal. This also aided them in receiving penalties, as they received three five-meter shots and converted on two of them. The Giants went into the break leading 8-7 after a high-scoring first half. 

However, the tide flipped as both defenses made necessary adjustments in the second half. Redwood’s defense increased their pressure, guarding San Luis Obispo from further out and forcing them to make long passes. This added pressure led to key steals by junior Sawyer Goldberg and sophomore Andy Wallace, forcing San Luis Obispo’s offense to slow its pace. On the defensive side, San Luis Obispo did quite the opposite of Redwood, compacting closer to the goal, daring the Giants to make shots from the outside. Neither offense had success, and the third quarter ended in a deadlock at 8-8. 

As the fourth quarter wore on, San Luis Obispo finally broke the scoring drought. However, one possession later, Joplin managed to get his right hand on a wild Giant pass. Despite facing his own goal, he managed to fire a strong backhand shot that hit the back of the net. Yet, Redwood’s strong second-half defense began to wear down, allowing open shots and missing saves, conceding three goals in the last five minutes. The offense never found its stroke in the second half, only scoring one goal, and was unable to respond to San Luis Obispo’s final push. San Luis Obispo went on to win 12-9, ending the Giants’ season. 

Even though the season is officially over, the Giants have a lot to be proud of, bringing home an MCAL and NCS championship along with an 18-12 season record.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Knauer, Reporter
Matthew Knauer is a junior at Redwood High School and is a reporter for the bark. He enjoys playing baseball, surfing, and hanging out with friends.