2011-11-24 / Sports
Boys in blue go back-to-back
Charger water polo team clamps down on Royal for CIF crown
The Agoura High boys’ water polo team defeated Royal 13-3 in the championship match of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs last Saturday at William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.
It wasn’t just about victory for these Chargers, but how they played the game.
For the Marmonte Leaguechampion Chargers, who finished 27- 4 overall, the win marked the squad’s second straight section championship, a first in school history.
After the dominating conquest, Agoura senior Danny McClintick paraphrased a quote from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
McClintick, who scored three goals, said winning it all was sweeter the second time around.
“It’s so much better,” he said. “We sacrificed so much for each other. This started in January, with all the work we put in that made this possible.”
Senior Jon Lai described the moment as “surreal.”
“To win it all twice, I feel very blessed,” Lai said.
McClintick celebrated with his teammate and friend Adam Abdulhamid, a senior standout who tallied two scores. McClintick and Abdulhamid have known each other since the second grade at Lupin Hill Elementary School.
“Last year we were the surprise team,” Abdulhamid said. “Last year we weren’t favored. But we wanted it. We set our minds to do it again—and we did.”
The Chargers credited stingy team defense for suffocating Royal (23-8).
“Defensively, without question, this was our best game we played all year,” Agoura head coach Dustin Litvak said.
“This was a complete team effort.”
Abdulhamid played shutdown defense on Royal standout Cody Moore, who’s heading to UCLA. Moore, the strongest individual talent for the Highlanders, didn’t notch a goal.
“It’s not easy guarding them individually,” said Abdulhamid, who’s weighing his playing options at multiple universities, including Princeton, Stanford and UCLA.
“Our team defense won it for us. We play as a cohesive unit and we’re successful together.”
Although 12 seniors dominate the Agoura roster, a pair of sophomore standouts rose to the occasion.
Goalkeeper Dominick Beaudine and Cory Laidig played huge roles in the Chargers’ clinic. Beaudine made big save after big save while Laidig, who starred in last year’s title tilt, registered three goals and four steals.
Litvak gushed over Laidig.
“ The kid is a big- game player,” the coach said of his super sophomore. “He’s incredible. He keeps his composure, and he’s there for everybody. He does all the little things to get you victories. I’m so excited to work with him for two more years.”
Litvak and McClintick said Beaudine played his best game of the year Saturday. Beaudine deflected praise to his teammates.
“We all had to work hard and train hard,” the goalie said. “It’s not one person’s job to score or make a stop. Each and every one of us did a job to help us succeed.
“We prepared for everything they could possibly throw at us.”
Royal struggled to find reasons for the setback.
Entering the brouhaha, the Highlanders felt they were prepared mentally and physically for the rematch.
“I don’t have an answer for what happened,” Royal head coach Steve Snyder said. “It’s still a mystery to me. Wow. What else could we have done? I’m really dumbfounded.
“I really felt we were better prepared than last year. We had a very specific, detailed game plan.”
When Agoura jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the Highlanders went into shellshock.
“That seemed to take the wind out of their sails,” Snyder said.
“We played them to a 2-2 tie in the second quarter and we could have made a run at 6-2 (halftime score). Talk about coming flat in the third period.”
Royal goalie Thor English praised the Chargers.
“Their whole team played outstanding,” said English, a three-sport star who also excels in soccer and volleyball.
Added Royal senior Jack O’Donnell: “ They wanted it more. They beat us. Congratulations to them.”
Andrew Moore tallied three goals for Agoura while teammate Chase Cockerill found the back of the net twice.
Max Menyuk, Christian Meissner, Eric Adams, Gilbert Ghang, Travis Leggett, Wassim Hmeidan, Matt Levinson and Forrest Penrod are Charger seniors.
Dylan Pritchett, EJ Ball, Nico Vilches, Chris Gardhouse, Will McClintick and Spencer Farrar round out AHS’ postseason roster.
Peter Schiavelli and Tibor Forai are assistant coaches.
While the Chargers savored the victory against a longtime rival, they’re also keeping an eye on the future. Litvak said he expects the Marmonte will move up to Division 2 or 3 next season.
“We can celebrate and enjoy this, but we’ll get back to work in January,” Litvak said. “We don’t stop. We’re never going to stop.”