Ramona High School’s boys water polo team began the 2009 season by winning three of five games at the Poway Invitational tournament Sept. 10-12.
The Bulldogs lost their first two games before winning their final three tournament contests.
“I always like to come out on the positive side of 50-50,” said Coach Donnie Williams.
For Williams, a tournament is not necessarily about improving his team’s record. Tournaments provide a new team with a chance to play together as well as to test the players’ endurance.
“It is a great experience,” Williams said of the Bulldogs playing five games.
The Bulldogs began the season—as well as the tournament—at the Westview High School pool with a 16-2 loss Sept. 10 to Huntington Beach High School, which eventually won the tournament. The Oilers led 14-1 at halftime.
“They don’t have a lot of time at the varsity level, so it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve,” Williams said of his players.
Had Ramona defeated the Oilers in that game, the Bulldogs would have played Fallbrook, whose only loss in the tournament was to Huntington Beach. Ramona’s loss pitted the Bulldogs against La Jolla Country Day for a Sept. 11 contest at Westview.
“Our bracket was really a tough bracket,” Williams said.
The Torres took the match between the two first-round losers by a 10-5 score. Ramona trailed 2-1 after the first quarter, 4-2 at halftime, and 6-3 after three periods.
“They all knew we were in the game. We were just playing sloppy,” Williams said. “We missed a lot of opportunities.”
La Jolla Country Day was able to take advantage of many of its opportunities, including man-up opportunities after Ramona 20-second penalties.
“One of our biggest problems right now is we’re getting way too many exclusions,” Williams said.
Ramona stayed at Westview for a second September 11 game in which the Bulldogs took a 14-9 victory over Valley Center.
“We came out pretty strong against them,” Williams said.
Ramona led the Jaguars 3-1 after the first period and had a 6-1 lead at one point during the second quarter. After an 8-4 halftime lead was closed to 9-7 during the third period, Ramona scored the quarter’s final goal for a 10-7 cushion entering the final quarter.
Ramona’s two September 12 games were played at Grossmont High School. The first was a 16-15 win over San Pasqual in sudden death overtime. Ramona had a 4-1 lead early in the game and led 4-2 after the first period, but the Golden Eagles took a 5-4 halftime lead.
“We were countering on them,” Williams said. “We just couldn’t finish.”
With 1:09 left in the fourth quarter San Pasqual scored to take a 12-11 lead, but James Oneto tied the game with 20 seconds left in regulation. The game then went to two three-minute mandatory overtime periods. In the first overtime the Golden Eagles scored to take a one-goal lead with 30 seconds left before the Bulldogs responded with a score of their own. San Pasqual scored first in the second overtime, and Ramona tied the score at 14-14 with 30 seconds remaining. San Pasqual regained the lead with a goal 16 seconds before the buzzer, but with eight seconds left Alan Williams obtained the ball and eventually took a cross-cage shot which scored the tying goal with one second left.
San Pasqual had the ball first in the sudden-death overtime period, but Ramona’s defense stopped the Golden Eagles. Donnie Williams called a time out and directed his players to execute a one-across play which would draw the defenders away from Alan Williams. Alan Williams took another cross-cage shot which went into the net 51 seconds into the overtime period.
Ramona concluded the tournament with a 13-1 victory over Clairemont in which the Chieftains scored the first goal before the Bulldogs scored the rest.
Ramona has a rematch against San Pasqual tomorrow in Escondido.