By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys water polo team opened Valley League play Oct. 2 against Oceanside, in what was also the Bulldogs’ home opener, and defeated the Pirates by a 16-3 score.
The Bulldogs held a 6-5 season record after the win over Oceanside and a 10-9 non-league loss Oct. 3 at Mt. Carmel.
Ramona had a 5-0 lead against Oceanside in the first quarter.
“Started off pretty strong,” said Coach Donnie Williams, who had doubted that the Pirates would stage a comeback. “They’re just a young team. They didn’t have a lot of experience.”
Williams thus had the luxury of giving up goals if he rested his starters and gave his reserves playing time. He made that decision and Oceanside had the next three successful shots. Williams put his starters back in the pool.
“I didn’t want to give the momentum up,” he said.
Even after returning the substitutes to the pool later in the game, the Pirates had no further scoring. Ramona led 10-3 at halftime and 15-3 entering the final period.
“It was a good game to get some experience for some of the other players,” Williams said.
Cory Davison and Garrett Klem led the Bulldogs with four goals apiece. Jesse Reiling, Thomas Abbott, and Levi Vermeulen each scored twice. Wyatt Jeffers and Vinnie Talento each put one ball into the net.
“Goalwise we balanced it out with several different players,” said Williams.
Six Bulldogs had a steal apiece: Reiling, Klem, Abbott, Noah Lagoe, Vermeulen, and Talento. Taylor Holas made three saves during his time as Ramona’s goalkeeper while Jack Sundberg recorded one save.
“It was a good win for us. I think we did well across the board,” Williams said.
Ramona and Mt. Carmel are both in Division II for CIF playoff purposes, so the result of that match will likely have seeding implications.
“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Williams said.
The Sundevils scored the game’s first two goals.
Mt. Carmel took a 2-1 lead into the second period, as Davison closed out the first-quarter scoring with a power play goal. The Sundevils held a 3-1 advantage early in the second quarter, but about three minutes into the quarter the Bulldogs scored and about 30 seconds after that Ramona tied the game on a five-meter penalty shot.
The Bulldogs then took a 4-3 lead, the Sundevils scored the next two goals, Ramona scored about 15 seconds after the Sundevils’ go-ahead shot, and Mt. Carmel took a 6-5 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the half. Ramona’s attempt to take a tie into halftime fell victim to the Mt. Carmel goalkeeper’s block of Davison’s five-meter penalty shot.
Both third-period scores were from Mt. Carmel shooters.
“We just didn’t play together as well as I would have liked,” Williams said.
Early in the fourth quarter Reiling’s five-meter penalty shot narrowed the score to 8-6. Holas blocked a penalty shot, and Ryan Hall’s goal moved the Bulldogs to within one tally. Reiling found himself open and took the game-tying shot, and Ramona took a 9-8 lead with 1:30 remaining.
“We made a good run there,” Williams said. “The momentum was all on our side.”
One of the reasons a team may call a time-out is to attempt to stop momentum, and Mt. Carmel used that option. The Sundevils tied the game, and Williams called time-out with 30 seconds left and 24 seconds remaining on the shot clock.
An offensive foul not only gave the Sundevils the ball but also left Ramona a man down. Mt. Carmel took a 10-9 lead with seven seconds left. Williams set up one final play; Reiling’s shot was blocked and, although Klem recovered the rebound, his shot was stopped by the goalkeeper.
“It was a good comeback,” Williams said. “All in all the guys played well.”
Reiling scored four times against the Sundevils, Hall had three goals, and Davison and Vermeulen each had one successful shot. Klem led the team with three steals while Hall, Reiling, Abbott, and Talento recorded two steals apiece and one steal each was obtained by Spencer Schwegler, Davison, Vermeulen, Sundberg, and Holas. Holas and Sundberg each made four saves, and Talento had a field block.
The Bulldogs will travel to the Newport Rib Company Varsity Invitational tournament which will be held Friday and Saturday.