Foothill Wins Fourth League Title in a Row
Top-ranked Foothill continued its recent water polo dominance of the Century League, easily defeating No. 3 Villa Park, 11-4, Wednesday at Villa Park to win its fourth consecutive league title.
There was some thought that Villa Park might be able to hang with the Knights and pull off the upset. Villa Park had the home-pool advantage, and perhaps some history on its side. Former Spartan players Doug Kimbell, a member of the 1988 and ’92 Olympic teams, and Gavin Arroyo, expected to play for the U.S. team next year in Atlanta, were in the crowd of about 500.
Foothill, however, clearly had the best players in the pool. The Knights led, 4-1, after one quarter, 7-1, at halftime and, 10-2, after three quarters.
“Our defense took them out of the game,” Foothill Coach Jim Brumm said. “We came in with three defensive options and we didn’t have to go past the first option.”
Foothill (22-1, 5-0 in league) won its fourth consecutive league title, 20th consecutive league game and wrapped up the top-seeding in the Southern Section Division I playoffs, which start next week. Even with the loss, Villa Park (22-4, 4-1), ranked fourth in the division, will likely still receive a high seeding in the playoffs.
“They’re the best team we have seen,” Villa Park Coach Jeff Ehrlich said. “We have a good team. They have a very good team. That’s the difference.”
The Knights forced the action with pressure defense, never giving Villa Park a chance to get into its offensive flow. Villa Park had only one more shot (eight) than Foothill had goals in the first half.
Even so, Villa Park hung tough early, tying the score on Joey Pacelli’s goal 2 1/2 minutes into the game. The score remained the same for three more minutes, until the Knights scored three goals in the final 1 minute 28 seconds of the quarter. Brian Brown scored twice, including a shot from about six meters that appeared to surprise Villa Park goalkeeper Jon Pharris with 20 seconds left.
Foothill’s three unanswered goals in the second quarter essentially put the game away.
“Once you get too far out of it, it’s tough to convince anyone that you can come back,” Ehrlich said.
Brown finished with four goals and Rob Arroyo, the brother of Gavin who decided to attend Foothill, had three.
Arroyo nearly knocked Pharris out of the game early in the fourth quarter. Arroyo’s backhand shot from four meters hit Pharris square in the nose and bounced away for one of Pharris’ 11 saves. Pharris shook it off after slight bleeding that was not noticed by the referees.
Two other players were forced out of the game because of cuts in the third quarter. Villa Park’s Brian Pharris took an elbow below his right eye. Foothill’s Scott Hay was cut above his right eye.