Berkeley passes last major test in league play; Encinal up next
In a battle of the ACCAL’s only remaining undefeated boys’ water polo teams, Berkeley High came out on top of Alameda, 12-9, Tuesday afternoon.
Playing in the smallest pool in the conference, the action was fast and furious as counterattacks came one after another. The visiting Yellowjackets (12-6, 4-0 ACCAL) never trailed in the match and never lost their lead after the first quarter, but the outcome was in doubt until the final two minutes of the final period.
“We’ve played these guys three times this year, and we’ve won every time,” said Yellowjacket Carl Nasman. “But it’s always close, and they really know how to play in their own pool.”
Berkeley couldn’t maintain more than a one-goal lead for most of the match, but they didn’t let the Hornets establish their offense enough to tie the match either. Up 9-8 with less than four minutes remaining in the match, the ’Jackets pounded the ball in side to Joe Ravera and David Schooley, who each scored a goal to put the visitors up 11-8 with just two minutes left and remove any doubt about which team was going to win.
The Yellowjackets main concern on defense was keeping the ball out of the hands of Alameda hole setter Artie Cortez, the Hornets’ best player and the hub of the team’s offense.
“Our coach told us to double-team him if he got the ball in the hole, and we stopped his pretty well,” Nasman said.
With Ravera and Schooley playing tough defense on Cortez, the Hornets were reduced to taking shots from the perimeter for much of the match, which played right into the hands of the Berkeley defense.
“We were terrible shooting and passing today,” said Alameda coach Robert Rodd. “We made their goalie look like and all-star.”
That goalie, Chris May, made 12 saves in the game and also watched numerous Alameda shots go wide and high of his net.
“I thought they were actually pretty good shooting out of their set offense,” May said. “But once I got used to the small pool and shots coming from anywhere, it was easier to stop them.”
May also praised his team’s play against Cortez.
“We had really good hole-set defense today, and he didn’t get many shots close in,” he said.
Berkeley jumped out to a quick two-goal lead on goals from Ravera and Schooley, but the Hornets came rushing back to tie the score with two goals of their own in less than a minute of action. Nasman scored a goal before the first intermission to give the ’Jackets a 3-2 lead.
The second period was more of the same, as both teams scored three goals for a 6-5 halftime score. Cortez got his first goal during the quarter, but it was a shot from the outside as he looked to escape the ’Jackets’ tough interior defense.
The third quarter was highlighted by spectacular saves from each goalie, as Alameda’s James Britton knocked down inside shots from Ravera and Schooley. But Schooley went to his backhand in the final period, scoring three straight goals for Berkeley to finish with five scores.
“He beat the same guy with the same moves three times in a row,” Rodd said. “It’s hard to win a game like that.”
When Ravera found himself three yards out from the Alameda goal with the ball in his hand and no defender in sight, he put the game away with his third goal to put Berkeley up 11-8. Cortez finally got his second goal with a minute left, but Alameda’s frustrations boiled over as Steve Lodigiani was ejected from the action following his third intentional foul, and Berkeley’s Dominic Cathey scored with 37 seconds left on the clock to set the final score and deal the Hornets their first ACCAL loss.
The girls’ game was considerably less competitive, as the ’Jackets (7-8, 2-3) scored four goals in less than two minutes during the first quarter. From there the rest of the game was just a formality, as Berkeley’s Cody Keffer racked up a second-half hat trick to match the three goals from teammate Carrie Guilfoyle as the Yellowjackets rolled to a 9-3 win. Berkeley goalie Amy Degenkolb made 10 saves in the winning effort.