The562’s coverage of aquatic sports in Long Beach is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
A valiant effort came up short for Wilson boys’ water polo in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals at Foothill on Saturday. The Bruins hung with the heavily favored Knights until the second half when the home team swam away with a 14-6 victory.
“We played a great half, 4-2 with these guys is a super high level, but it didn’t go our way,” Wilson coach Zac Polmanteer said. “They shot really well and we missed a lot of shots. It kind of boils down to that.”
Antonio Loria-Apuzzo scored twice for Wilson while Eli Vince, Gavin Simon, Enzo Brigagliano and Wyatt Mitchell also netted goals.
“It’s a tough loss, but that’s why it’s a championship and only one team can win,” Mitchell said.
William Griswold scored a game-high six goals for Foothill while John Bergstedt chipped in a hat trick and goalkeeper Edric Scott finished with seven saves.
The Knights opened the game with a pair of power play goals from Bergstedt, and they went on to score eight of their goals after exclusions or on a 5-meter penalty shot.
“We knew we were going to have to play a game of foul trouble,” Polmanteer said. “We were going to take ejections because they’re really active attacking the goal. It was just a matter of spreading those out.”
A power play goal from Loria-Apuzzo cut the Foothill lead to 3-2 in the middle of the second quarter, but Bergstedt’s third goal made it 4-2 at halftime.
Griswold scored twice early in the third quarter to pad the lead, and then scored three consecutive goals to start the fourth quarter that effectively ended the game.
“In the third quarter there were three possessions in a row where we hurt ourselves, kind of threw the ball into precarious situations, and it just turned into an easy top-line counter attack for them,” Polmanteer said. “It’s rare to see those in a top level water polo game. If you see multiple of those back to back it’s a back breaker.”
Polmanteer added that he’s very proud of his senior class.
“They’re the small but mighty because four of our six seniors are first-year varsity players so for them to be seniors in this program with these expectations to step up, rise to the challenge and have a way better record than I think most people assumed of us this year,” Polmanteer said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for them.”
Mitchell, one of the seniors who played multiple years on varsity, knows what he’ll miss the most.
“I’ll always remember those cold mornings in the pool and working hard with my boys,” he said. “I appreciate every moment of that.”