Marina boys’ water polo too strong for Estancia

Marina's Vincent Labonte, center, spins counterclockwise before scoring against Estancia goalkeeper Griffin Beth, left, in the first half of a nonleague match at Westminster High on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Marina High boys’ water polo team has had a busy start to the season.

Marina placed 22nd in the Long Beach Poly tournament last weekend, and Wednesday’s nonleague match against Estancia was already the Vikings’ seventh of the young campaign.

The Vikings have high expectations, and they breezed past the Eagles 12-4 at Westminster High.

Senior Sam Capifoni and sophomore Vincent Labonte each scored four goals for Marina (2-4). Capifoni said he wants to improve on last year’s third-place showing in the Wave League and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs, which would be Marina’s first postseason appearance in Capifoni’s time with the program.

Marina's Sam Capifoni shoots against Estancia in the first half of a nonleague match at Westminster High on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“We’re looking really good this year,” Capifoni said. “Not only is the team more willing to learn and cooperate, but there’s some really good chemistry. I think that we can work the ball around and really read the other team, as well as each other. That’s huge. I haven’t seen that at all at Marina, in the four years that I’ve been here. I’m excited.

“We’re a lot more competitive because everyone’s not just trying to shoot. They’re trying to work together.”

Junior defender Kolby Burke added two goals for Marina, while Sean Harvey and Daniel Virak scored one goal each. The Vikings also have a returning all-league goalkeeper in senior Tanner Powell, who helped hold Estancia to just one goal until late in the third quarter.

“We had about two weeks of training before our season started, so we’re definitely catching up right now,” Burke said. “That tournament was really good. It helped us get a lot of games under our belt, in better shape.”

Junior Logan Richard scored three goals for Estancia, which got one goal from senior Matthew Kehoe and 11 saves from junior goalkeeper Griffin Beth.

Estancia's Matthew Kehoe (5) shoots against Marina in the second half of a nonleague match at Westminster High on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Estancia coach Matt Frazier said his other top returning junior field player, Noah Gniffke, broke his right middle finger while bodysurfing on Aug. 26. Frazier said he hopes to get Gniffke back for Orange Coast League play, which begins against Saddleback on Oct. 10.

“Once everyone knows that Logan is our only player, all they’ve got to do is guard him,” Frazier said. “That’s what they were doing out there, and our guys are so inexperienced that they don’t want to do anything. They don’t want to make a mistake, because I’m going to yell at them … It’s just going to take some time to work these guys into the system and get going.”

Marina returns to action with a nonleague match at Long Beach Poly on Thursday, while Estancia plays at West Torrance on Tuesday.


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