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HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO : Royal Battles Legacy of Postseason Failure

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

If there is one thing Steve Snyder knows, it’s history.

And history is definitely against the Royal High water polo team’s chances of advancing past today’s second-round match of the Southern Section playoffs.

In the 9 years Snyder has been the coach at Royal, the Highlanders have advanced to the playoffs every year, yet have never made it past the second round. In fact, Royal, which won its 8th consecutive Marmonte League title this season, has lost in the second round 7 of the past 8 years.

Snyder, who earned a degree in history, rifles off the details of those playoff losses.

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“In 1981, it was a shock and experience to win the league title,” Snyder said. “Our 1982 team far exceeded our expectations. In 1983 we didn’t have the personnel. . . .” and on he goes.

But the Highlanders have already taken a significant step toward making sure history doesn’t repeat itself by beating Crespi, 13-6, Wednesday. Royal’s only first-round loss in its 8-year streak came in 1984 to the Celts, 9-8.

“In 1984 we just overlooked them. . . . We were complacent,” Snyder said. “They rose to the occasion last time. We did this time.” Snyder lists the 1984 loss as one of the most bitter of the streak. Memories of the defeat were conveyed to this year’s squad (16-6), which has 3 players with older brothers who played on the 1984 team.

“Every time I bring up that game my brother changes the subject,” said Devin Hurst, the team’s leading scorer with 94 goals and whose older brother Dane was on the 1984 team.

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The match at 3 p.m. today against Edison at Golden West Junior College is an opportunity to finally break the streak.

Snyder is philosophical about his team’s chances.

“I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in years,” Snyder said. “The odds have to be in our favor.

“But I’m going to be back next year, the kids won’t. It’s not my win or loss in the second round, it’s theirs.

“I’m waiting for a group of young men that have all the chemistry it takes to go beyond that.”


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