Once the Dos Pueblos water polo team got settled in their first game under coach Bryan Snyder, it turned into an unsettling experience for visiting De La Salle.
The Chargers fell behind 2-1 before turning up their defensive intensity and erupting for eight unanswered goals en route to a 15-12 victory at the Elings Aquatic Center.
The final score is a bit deceiving as DP opened up an 11-3 lead in the third quarter and was ahead 12-5 before De la Salle got its offense going and made the game close.
But during a 10-minute span from late in the first quarter to early in the third, the Spartans were simply overpowered by an aggressive and fast DP squad.
“I think we were a little overexcited — our first home game and our first game of the year,” said Snyder, who played water polo at UCSB and formerly coached at San Ramon High in the Bay Area. “Once we settled down and got into our team defense, things started clicking. I tell these guys we have so much offensive firepower, defense is going to be our main thing this year we have to focus on. Once we get that going we can get some blocks, feed our counterattack … it looks good.”
As Alex Reilly and Sammy Arshadi helped shut down the set position, the other Chargers pressured all over the pool to force turnovers or funnel shots right at goalie Aiden Trager, who made 12 saves in his varsity debut at the position.
And once they got the ball, the Chargers attacked with a vengeance.
“When we drop off and have good matchups at two meters, the guys up top, they got to keep attacking toward the goal,” Snyder said. “If there’s open water in front of you, why don’t you use it, right?”
Arshadi and senior Ethan Parrish overpowered De la Salle defenders and combined for 14 goals. Arshadi led the way eight, including the go-ahead goal on a lob after a long pass from Trager. Alex Reilly had six assists.
Parrish made it 4-2 with a nifty piece of individual skill. He pushed the ball up the left wing, faked a pass to the middle and then buried a shot at the near post with 23 seconds left in the first period
The Chargers kept up the pressure as Snyder yelled “attack, attack attack” from the deck. First, it was Parrish finishing, then Arshadi, then Parrish again followed by two more from Arshadi.
“I really like playing with Ethan, we have a really good chemistry,” said Arshadi. “I think we really play well off of each other and play well together.”
Said Snyder of his potent scoring combo: “They’re phenomenal players. They’re very athletic, they move through the water very, very well, they have a very high water polo IQ. It’s a luxury to have players like that on your team.”
Reilly had a field block and Trager made save during DP’s scoring run before De la Salle broke its drought.
“Our defense really motivates us to get our counter on and really get out in the offense,” said Arshadi. “Our coach says it really sets the game pace for us, and defense always come first.”
He agreed that the defense really stepped after De La Salle scored inside to take a 2-1 lead.
“That really sparked our defense and motivated us to really get after them,” the junior said.
Arshadi received a nice pass from Rex Goodner and drew a major foul for a penalty shot. He converted for his sixth goal of the first half, giving DP a 10-3 halftime lead.
Dos Pueblos is back in action on Thursday in the Santa Barbara Invitational. The Chargers open against La Serna, the team that beat them in the 2017 CIF-SS finals.