One-hundred and sixty-one.
That’s the number of goals Costa Mesa High water polo legend Corey Delahunt scored in 1990. The record that still stands as the most goals scored in a single season in program history.
It’s also a number that was seared into the mind of an audacious Caedmon Fisher at age 8. He took note of the record board his very first time walking the Costa Mesa pool deck.
The then-soccer player and water polo novice vowed to himself that one day he would shatter that mark.
Fisher, now a senior star for the Mustangs, has inched closer to achieving that goal.
Fisher scored 11 goals in an 18-4 rout of rival Estancia in Orange Coast League play on Oct. 24, and he had two goals in an 8-7 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Thursday, pushing his season total to 148. The effort against Estancia secured Costa Mesa’s first league title since 2004 and the win over Notre Dame earned the Mustangs their first trip to the quarterfinals since 2008.
Fisher added five goals in the Mustangs’ quarterfinal match against Santa Barbara on Saturday night. The No. 4-seeded Mustangs lost 9-8 at home.
The swift-attacking left-hander went into Saturday trailing only 2006 graduate Kyle Thorsness at 157, and, of course, Delahunt at 161.
“Once you put eight or nine years toward a specific goal, and you’re close to achieving it, it is a big thing for me and I’m really excited about it,” Fisher said.
But to keep pace with the record and keep advancing deeper into the playoffs, Fisher has had to adjust his game into a different kind of role this season.
He’s the only high-volume goal scorer on this year’s team. Last season, he could lean on senior Anthony Shin, who scored 85 goals. In addition to that, Fisher is also the Mustangs’ best playmaker, and finding the balance of scoring and hitting open teammates has been crucial for Costa Mesa.
“The games I score two or three goals against better teams, we don’t win,” Fisher said. “I have to get upwards of five, six or seven [goals] for us to have a chance. It just adds to our offense because once teams start double-teaming me, that opens up some of younger players to start shooting and scoring. It kind of all adds up together.”
The other, and perhaps most important, part of Fisher’s duties as the best player has been his enhanced leadership qualities. Not only does he keep his teammates calm and focused in the pool, but Fisher is the one setting up and executing team activities outside of it.
“He’s become such a great leader,” said Mustangs co-coach Dustin Serrano, who has also coached Fisher with the Costa Mesa Aquatics Club since he was 8. “He makes sure he includes the freshman who has never played before into team activities. [My twin brother] Cody, [whom I share the coaching duties with at Costa Mesa], and I have always called him our ace in the back pocket because he’ll play within the team game, but when we ask him to, he’ll rise above the challenge and become that alpha athlete.”
That ace in the back pocket has come in handy quite a few times. Fisher has shown the innate ability to recognize the momentum of any given game and decide whether the Mustangs need scoring Caedmon or passing Caedmon without the coaching staff needing to burn a timeout.
“There have been four games now where we’ve been tied and my brother and I look to call timeout and we see Caedmon has the ball and it’s like a Kobe Bryant moment,” Serrano said. “We know he’s got this. He puts the team on his back, goes isolation on his own, and scores the game-winning goal.
“But if he’s going down on a counter attack, two-on-one, he’s not going to take the shot,” he continued. “He’s going to give it up to his teammate.”
The most mind-boggling part of Fisher’s ascent into one of the best water polo players to dip into the pool at Costa Mesa, in Serrano’s view, is the fact that he’s stayed loyal throughout the process, not only to the Mustangs, but also to the CMAC program.
“With the talent that he has, he could have gone to a Mater Dei or Newport Harbor if he wanted to,” Serrano said. “But the loyalty he showed to being the guy to bring Costa Mesa back says a lot about him. Even in the club situation, he could have gone to the top clubs, but he stayed with us.”
While Fisher is very outspoken and honest about his desire to break the single-season scoring record, it’s never come at the expense of what’s most important to him, and that’s simply winning games and leaving the Costa Mesa program in a better place than when he got there.
“I would much rather have a CIF win for this team and this school than that record,” he said. “Individual records are just that and I want to bring something home for this school and my coaches. I want to get it for them, too. To show them my appreciation for them sticking with me.”
Sure, the record would be the perfect way to cap Fisher’s career at Costa Mesa, but even without it, his impact on the program will be felt for years to come.
“His legacy,” Serrano said with a pause, “is going to be rebuilding this program and bringing back the glory days to Costa Mesa High.”
Born: Feb. 21, 2001
Hometown: Costa Mesa
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 175 pounds
Sport: Water polo
Coaches: Cody and Dustin Serrano
Favorite food: Burrito
Favorite movie: “The Conjuring”
Favorite athletic moment: Defeating Murrieta Valley 9-8 in the first round of the 2017 CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.