Silicon Valley Voice readers may recall a story from earlier this fall on the Fremont water polo team. Last season the Firebirds won the El Camino League Championship in a thrilling 6-5 win over Wilcox. Their reward for winning the El Camino was a spot in the far more challenging De Anza division. Based off SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) bylaws, Fremont had no control over being moved up. Fremont moved up while Saratoga, who finished 0-12 in the De Anza in 2017, moved down.
Early on this season, the task for Fremont was clearly overwhelming. Having lost nearly their entire 2017 championship roster to graduation, the Firebirds struggled just to stay afloat, much less be competitive. Fremont dropped early season games by scores of 17-3, 16-3, 15-2 and 19-3.
While the Firebirds remain winless in league play, they pulled out a 4-3 tournament win and fared far better in rematches with Palo Alto and Gunn. In their first matches with the two schools, the Firebirds lost 15-2 and 17-3 respectively. The rematch scores were 6-1 and 9-6.
“Give us another season up here and who knows,” pondered Fremont Head Coach Moris Clark after a 12-2 loss to Homestead. “Even today, Homestead is a bigger, stronger team and we are so close. First half was 9-0 but it was 3-2 the second half.”
“We’re doing better for sure,” remarked senior goalkeeper June Vanlerberghe, the lone returning full-time varsity player from last year’s team. “We’re moving a lot more on offense, taking more shots, working better as a team.”
“I’ll tell you what, the girls are still having fun,” added coach Clark on the tough season. “And for the most part, I’m having fun. So I think that’s the best part about the season. The only one I feel bad for is June because she is such a good goalie. Unfortunately, the stats don’t show that this year. For me, I’m a dad, it’s heartbreaking to see, but she understands it’s not on her.”
The Firebirds wrap up their season with two more games. They will host Los Altos on Oct. 16 and finish the season at Monta Vista on Oct. 18. While coach Clark expresses curiosity to how his squad would fare in the De Anza next season, the overall indication is that Fremont will choose to return to the El Camino in 2019.