Early exclusion trouble would come back to haunt the Fremont Firebirds on Tuesday afternoon in Sunnyvale. After one quarter, Fremont trailed the visiting Wilcox Chargers just 3-1, but the Chargers took advantage of the Firebirds’ misfortunes. Fremont was missing one of their captains for the duration of the contest as senior Isaac Jacobson was out sick. Furthermore, two other Firebirds starters sat out part of the first half due to exclusion trouble.
Wilcox would score seven times in the second quarter, opening up a 10-1 half-time lead. They would go on to win 20-3.
“We had a couple players in foul trouble, stamina was definitely becoming an issue,” admitted Fremont Head Coach Steven Canalez. “Halfway through the first quarter we essentially lost our second and third best players and had to pull them out for a little while, give them a little time off. They each only had one exclusion left before they would be done for the game. So it kind of went downhill on us from there.”
“The refs got in my head this game,” admitted Fremont junior Anthony Kawamoto. “I could have definitely improved in that area. Any water polo game you have to try and adapt to what the refs are calling.”
While Wilcox failed to capitalize in the first quarter, it sounds as if their early game struggles have been on par thus far this season.
“We tend to have slow starts, about three fourths of the way through the first quarter we kind of woke up,” acknowledged Wilcox senior Lucas Cheng. “By the time the second quarter came along, we were ready to roll.”
“Because this is a longer pool, I think we were just tired out more than usual,” added Chargers captain Ben Burkhardt. “The second half of the game we really got our legs going and we were putting the ball in the back of the cage.”
“Sometimes it just takes a bit to get our heads in the game,” remarked Wilcox Assistant Coach Rich Cruzen. “One of our issues is we don’t take advantage of warmup and we get off to a slow start. Then we finally get going. It’s something we have been practicing, trying to get off to better starts, but it’s obviously something we still need to work on.”
For the Firebirds, it was Kawamoto scoring two of the three goals, while sophomore JT Kaprelian added the other.
Wilcox scoring was paced by Burkhardt who scored four times, while Cheng, Peter Farnham, Zach Edwards, Josh Brodskiy and James Odle all scored twice.
Fremont will look to get healthy and bounce back quickly when they host Cupertino on Thursday. Wilcox will also be back in the pool on Thursday when they host rival Santa Clara.