Wilson boys’ water polo has suffered through its share of growing pains this season, and the Bruins showed off their vast improvement on Wednesday at Belmont Outdoor Pool in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Corona del Mar came to Long Beach having easily beat Wilson twice already this year. However, the Bruins were able to jump out to an three-goal lead before the Sea Kings stormed back for a 10-8 win.
Wilson (12-17) was led by Kade Margain’s hat trick, a pair of scores from Gray Carson and first-quarter goals from Shane Nantais, Max Berg and Misha Tracey. Corona del Mar (16-13) got a game-high six goals from Tanner Pulice.
CDM had won its first two meetings with Wilson this year 12-7 and 10-4, but in the first quarter on Wednesday, Wilson took a 5-3 lead with goals from five different players.
“They had a look in their eyes and the first-half energy was unreal from these guys,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said of his team. “I was impressed.”
The Bruins led 6-3 with 4:24 left in the second quarter, but CDM bounced back quickly and scored three goals in the next three minutes. The Sea Kings scored six unanswered goals to take the lead for good, while Wilson lost key players down the stretch due to exclusions.
“We knew (CDM) was going to come back strong and we just couldn’t hold them off,” Nesmith said. “It doesn’t feel good to lose, but that’s our best performance as a team this season. You could see the unity from these guys after the game. They knew they left everything in the pool.”