Water Polo Wilson

Wilson Boys’ Water Polo Wins Long Beach Tournament

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 The fourth annual Long Beach Water Tournament hosted by Poly ended with a Long Beach team on top as Wilson beat Corona del Mar in the final 9-5 on Saturday at the Belmont Pool.
“CDM has had our number in this tournament,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said. “I think that’s our first win over them since 2017. It’s great to get that monkey off our backs.”

Wilson took a lead thanks to a pair of late goals in the first half, and then the Bruins defense locked down CDM to secure the victory while goalkeeper Brady Simon made 13 saves.

“We wanted to have a strong finish and show everybody what we can do,” Simon said. “Last season was a little rough for us, we had our ups and downs, but we’ve had a chance to develop more chemistry. We’ve had a few guys who didn’t play as much last year really step up and it’s going to be a fun season.”

Wilson seniors Gray Carson and Zac Crenshaw both scored a hat trick, and teammate Carson Krueger booked the game with a pair of goals. The Bruins outscored CDM 4-2 in the second half.

“Much sharper on defense in the afternoon,” Nesmith said in comparison to the other three games Wilson played as part of the 24-team tournament. “It was a really great weekend to be back in the fall season for water polo. This is a great, competitive tournament in Long Beach. Everyone loves coming to the Belmont pool and playing because it’s a premier facility.”

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Wilson took an early lead when Carson found Krueger for the goal after a CDM exclusion. The Sea Kings tied it a minute later, and then after Carson scored a goal of his own, CDM scored again to tie it 2-2.

Simon also made a huge 5-meter penalty shot save in the first quarter to keep the game tied.

“He has grown and matured a lot with a lot of club water polo experience under his belt and we’ve been blown away,” Nesmith said of Simon. “That 5-meter block was a game changer.”

CDM had four players score and Carson Simonson was the only Sea Kings player with two goals.

As time expired in the first quarter, Carson spun in the middle of the pool and fired home the go-ahead goal. After a very defensive second quarter, Carson took another shot at the buzzer and Crenshaw was there to push home the rebound for a 5-3 halftime lead.

“At a certain point Gray (Carson) took over the game with some key goals but each guy contributed at a different point,” Nesmith said.

PHOTOS: Wilson vs. Corona del Mar, Boys’ Water Polo

Wilson senior Hank Rivers made a huge steal at the beginning of the third quarter to kill an exclusion, and then he scored on a tight angle to extend the Bruins lead to 6-4.

“He’s definitely a difference maker,” Nesmith said of Rivers. “Those shots from the deep corner are always surprising and tricky. He did one of those low skippers and it snuck in there. That was a big swing in the game.”

A 5-meter penalty shot from Carson put Wilson up 7-4 headed to the fourth quarter, and the Bruins defense flexed its muscles in the fourth quarter while limiting CDM to one 5-meter goal.

“They’re one of those strong teams in the Division 1 group and they’re a long time rival,” Nesmith said of CDM. “The players and coaches know each other well. There’s some playful banter between them. We enjoy competing against them and that always makes for good water polo.”

Wilson will play CDM again this week in nonleauge action.

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.