After the first quarter on Thursday, the Fremont Firebirds found themselves trailing the Lynbrook Vikings 3-2. But, behind senior leader Anthony Kawamoto and junior JT Kaprelian, the Firebirds rallied in the second to take a 6-5 lead into halftime. Kaprelian scored twice and Kawamoto added another as the team went into the break feeling good about their game.
“We were in the game at that point,” said Kawamoto after the match. “We really have a good group of kids this year. Last year we were shaky, but this year we really found it.”
Fremont continued their high level of play early in the third quarter with Kawamoto and Kaprelian each scoring in the first two minutes to extend the lead to 8-5. Unfortunately for Firebird fans, that’s where the tide shifted.
Lynbrook scored the final three goals of the third quarter to pull within 8-8, and the quarter ended with the Firebirds down two players. The fourth quarter then began with Lynbrook playing with a six-on-four advantage. Kaprelian would help deny a goal with a great defensive play during the six-on-four situation, but in a battle for the ball shortly afterward, Kaprelian was called for his third kick out of the match, which is an automatic ejection.
Fremont was none too happy with the officiating throughout the game. Without Kaprelian, the rest of the way it was an upstream swim from there on out.
“He’s a phenomenal player, he’s really good on defense and offense,” praised Kawamoto. “I don’t think I could ask for a better teammate really. He communicates in the pool, he has a nice shot, a really nice finesse to his shot and you can tell he leaves his heart in that pool.”
After the string of exclusion penalties to end the third and start the fourth, the Firebirds simply were unable to hold their composure. Lynbrook took over the game from that point on, scoring eight unanswered goals, eventually winning 14-8.
“They are still learning how to keep focus, because they can lose focus quickly,” acknowledged Fremont Head Coach Raul Lujan. “One bad call from a ref can deteriorate our attitude. We may have lost tonight, but we played well, we played hard and left everything in the water.”
The loss drops the Firebirds’ record to 1-6 on the season. Only two games remain, a home match on Tuesday, Oct. 22 against Saratoga and the season finale at Cupertino on Thursday, Oct. 24.