The Fremont Firebirds of Sunnyvale dropped their final water polo league game by a 9-5 margin to the Monta Vista Matadors on Thursday. Fremont sees their season end with a 1-9 record. Outside the disappointment in the win-loss column, both Head Coach Steven Canalez and captain Isaac Jacobson noted that the team progressed nicely over the course of the season. Just like their girls team, Fremont saw a large amount of seniors graduate from last year’s squad. The wins and losses don’t tell the whole story of team improvement.
“I think we made a lot of progress. I think last year we lost 14 of our seniors from our team so we had a very young group this year,” said Jacobson, who shared captaincy duties this season with fellow senior Amir Engel. “I think over the year all the younger guys got a lot more comfortable in the water, more comfortable holding the ball and waiting before passing it away immediately. I think they have come a long way for sure.”
“They have pleasantly surprised me with how much they have progressed,” remarked coach Canalez on his young squad. “Going into the season I knew it was going to be one of those rebuild years where we had to get guys out there and get them some experience — a taste of varsity water polo. We were pretty shaky early, which is to be expected. But there’s a stark difference from the first half to the second half. They were playing with a lot more confidence. I didn’t have to coach them as much in games because they knew the game plan and knew how to execute it.”
Along with Jacobson, who stood out for his defensive efforts, deftly stealing the ball away from unsuspecting opponents, both goalkeeper Matan Iarovici and center Anthony Kawamoto also impressed in the league finale.
Iarovici stopped a five-meter penalty shot among a handful of strong saves and Kawamoto finished with three of the Firebirds’ five goals.
“Matan has had a pretty good season, especially towards the end,” noted Jacobson on his keeper. “There’s been a couple games where he’s really turned it on and today was one of them.”
“Before this year Matan hadn’t had much varsity experience in the cage, so the second half of this year he’s felt a lot more comfortable,” added coach Canalez on Iarovici. “He’s been making his decisions on attacking loose balls a lot faster and that’s been allowing us to counter attack more effectively.”
Jacobson delivered similar praise to Kawamato for being the Firebirds’ go-to scorer.
“Anthony has been a huge help this year, leading scorer on the team and has done a great job all around,” said Jacobson. “He always knows what to do with the ball.”
Fremont will finish their season with a couple of tournaments the next two weekends, including the league playoff tournament where every team will play at least twice.