The first half waters were a bit murky at Saratoga High School for the Wilcox Chargers varsity water polo squad Tuesday afternoon. Wilcox would score just twice in the first quarter, relying mostly on impressive goaltending from junior keeper Jenelle Laughlin throughout the first half. Laughlin stymied the Falcons, shutting them out in the second frame after conceding just a single goal in the first quarter.
Wilcox center Lydia Yi scored the only goal of the second quarter for either team, giving the Chargers a 3-1 advantage over the Falcons heading into the break. As if a light switch was flipped, the Chargers immediately came to life offensively to start the second half.
Wilcox put the game away with three straight goals within the first two minutes of the third quarter. They would go on to cruise to an 11-2 victory over the Falcons, remaining undefeated on the season in league play at 11-0.
“We don’t usually score a lot in the first quarter, maybe two or three. This game, we were just a little off to start,” acknowledged Wilcox Head Coach Rich Cruzen. “We hit the post a couple times, we got a couple exclusions. We were actually doing a good job, just weren’t converting on our opportunities that were there.”
“Sometimes we just take a while to get into the rhythm of things,” confirmed Laughlin on the team’s slow start. “But then we got it going in the second half.”
“It was definitely a rough start,” added Yi, who finished with six goals for the game. “I feel like our team sort of takes the first half to get used to how the other team plays. We sort of analyze how they play and that takes us some time to get into a rhythm.”
Everything clicked for the Chargers in that third quarter. Two of the three goals to start the third were scored by senior Lucy Clarke. The first of her two goals was as perfect of a shot as one could make, off the far post and into the cage from about 12 meters out.
“She is a really strong shooter,” praised Laughlin on Clarke. “If we are struggling a bit, we can always count on her to get those last minute shots in.”
Clarke and Yi are the two captains and coach Cruzen allows them to organize the troops during timeouts and figure things out amongst themselves.
“I kind of stand back and let them run the team,” admitted Cruzen. “During our timeouts and quarter breaks, I let them do the talking and figure things out. I’ll come in if they didn’t bring something up, and I’ll mention something, but I really try to let them figure things out while they are playing, which is how you learn. Me telling them all the answers isn’t going to work.”
The Chargers seemed to have all the answers they needed in the second half to put any doubt in the outcome of the game quickly to bed. Along with Clarke and Yi, Adelina Garnett and Alice Oudard also scored for the Chargers.
Wilcox will look to improve to 12-0 on Thursday, Oct. 13 against Cupertino.