By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys water polo team improved its Valley League record to 3-1 with an Oct. 23 win at Del Norte.
A 3-2 record in the Oct. 24-26 San Diego Open tournament allowed the Bulldogs to even their overall season record, which stood at 12-12 following the tournament’s conclusion.
“All in all the team played really strong,” said Coach Donnie Williams.
Ramona and Del Norte had played a non-league game Sept. 6 in the Poway Invitational tournament. The Bulldogs tied the game with three seconds left in regulation and scored in golden goal overtime for a 10-9 victory.
“It was a good rematch,” Williams said of the league game.
In the league matchup, the Nighthawks had a 2-1 advantage after the first period, but the score was 4-4 at halftime.
The score was 5-5 entering the fourth period and 6-6 until Ramona’s Jesse Reiling scored on a counterattack with 2-1/2 minutes left.
“They kind of switched up and left him unguarded,” Williams said.
The Bulldogs held on for the 7-6 victory.
“It was closely fought all the way through,”said Williams. “I thought it was a pretty evenly matched game for the most part.”
The winning goal was Reiling’s third score of the game. Garrett Klem added two goals while Spencer Schwegler and Cory Davison put a shot apiece into the net. Reiling, Vinnie Talento, and Levi Vermeulen each had one assist.
Reiling also had three steals with Vermeulen and Wyatt Jeffers each recording two steals. Goalie Jack Sundberg also had two steals along with four saves during his two quarters in the nets while goalie Taylor Holas had three saves and a steal. Davison and Thomas Abbott each had a field block.
“Defensively I thought we played well,” Williams said.
Ramona began the San Diego Open with two Oct. 24 games at Valhalla High School. The first was a 10-9 overtime win over Mercer Island, which made the trip from Washington.
Ramona had a 4-0 first-quarter lead, although the Islanders scored six of the next seven goals for a 6-5 advantage. A Bulldogs’ score created a halftime tie. Mercer Island led 8-7 after three periods before regulation ended with a 9-9 tie score. Reiling scored the winning goal with eight seconds left in overtime.
Ramona’s second Oct. 24 match was a 14-7 loss to Torrey Pines. The Falcons had a 3-2 lead after one quarter and an 8-4 cushion after halftime.
Torrey Pines led 12-5 after three periods.
“The third quarter they kind of blew it out on us,” Williams said.
Ramona played Steele Canyon at West Hills High School on Oct. 25. The Bulldogs were on the preferred end of the 15-6 final score. Ramona had the game’s first goal, the Cougars tied the score, and the Bulldogs had the remaining three goals of the first period and all four goals of the second quarter.
“We kind of got in a good groove,” said Williams.
Ramona led 12-4 after three periods.
Reiling scored six times against the Cougars, Davison and Vermeulen had three goals apiece, Klem placed two shots into the net, and Noah Lagoe scored his first varsity goal. Klem and Abbott each had three assists while Klem and Vermeulen had three steals apiece.
Holas had nine saves and two steals while Sundberg made eight saves. Williams added that Ramona’s goalkeepers have also shown leadership in recent games.
“I can’t say enough about how the goalies have progressed,” Williams said.
Ramona returned to Valhalla for two Oct. 26 games. The first was a 12-11 victory over San Pasqual.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Williams said.
Ramona led the Golden Eagles by a 3-1 margin after one period and 6-5 at halftime. The score was 8-8 after three periods.
The Bulldogs ended the tournament against Serra, which has won the past two CIF Division II championships. Reiling and Vermeulen scored the game’s first two goals before a goal in the final minute of the first period put the Conquistadors on the scoreboard. The game was tied 3-3 at halftime, but Ramona didn’t score in the second half. Serra led 5-3 after three quarters and won by a 6-3 margin.
“The tournament matched up well for us. We had good games against good teams,” Williams said.
Friday will be Senior Night for the Bulldogs, who will host San Marcos. Ramona’s regular season finale Nov. 5 at Rancho Bernardo is a non-league game but involves two teams that are in Division II for CIF playoff purposes.