LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — For the past three years, defense has been as important as offense for the Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo team under coach Dan Hare.
“I have been teaching them the satisfaction may not be quite as exciting a goal, but a field block or a steal is also pretty good,” Hare said.
It was evident Tuesday when the Rebels hosted San Marino in a nonleague match. Prep dominated from start to finish en route to a 16-2 victory, thanks in large part to a defense that suffocated the Titans, who committed 19 turnovers.
“It really set up half of our goals in the first quarter and set a really good tone,” Hare said of his team’s defense. “Defense obviously feeds the counter-attack. We had a few guys that were sick so the front-court offense was missing a couple of pieces, which put the impetus on the counter-attack. I was pleased with the way we started and that we maintained it and were able to lock it down.”
Things went sour quickly for the Titans, as San Marino Coach Mark Barr was forced to call a timeout two minutes and 19 seconds into the contest when he saw his team come out flat and fall behind, 2-0, on goals from Prep’s Carlo Sivilotti and Diego Delgado.
“I don’t think we showed up to play today,” said Barr, whose team fell to 3-4 with the loss. “Right from the first whistle we weren’t as assertive as we were playing this weekend.
“We have to forget about it, whether we were on the other end of it, it has to be the same. We have to forget about it, this game is over, we can’t do anything about it, so we have to move on to our game tomorrow.”
The Titans were unable to make an adjustment, as they found themselves in a deep 6-0 hole headed into the second quarter. Four of the Rebels opening-quarter scores came off turnovers with Delgado and Sivilotti each logging two goals in the opening seven minutes.
While Flintridge Prep’s offense slowed down in the second and third quarters — with four goals in the span — its defense sure didn’t, with Delgado (two field blocks, two steals) and Ethan Vandeventer (three steals, a field block) leading the way.
“We thrive playing defense,” Delgado said. “Everything good comes from our defense. Our counter-attack starts from our defense and that’s how we scored most of our goals today.”
The Titans first got on the board with two seconds to go in the third quarter when Kevin Fong scored on a man-advantage. It was San Marino’s only goal on four six-on-five opportunities, as Prep recorded a total of six saves — four from starter Brian Khin in the first half and two from backup Max Bork.
San Marino also got a game-high seven saves from Brian Rogers, three from backup Justin Sy and its second goal from Chis Cao with 3:41 to go in the game.
Prep (2-0) exploded for six more goals in the final quarter with Bryce Delgado scoring a pair of goals in the last seven minutes.
While the Rebels racked up the goals, they were evenly distributed with Vandeventer and Diego Delgado tying for a game high in scores with three. Ethan Streeter, Alex Blaine, Carlo Sivilotti and Bryce Delgado each added two for Prep, which also got a goal from Jamie Walker and Shawn King.
“We don’t rely on any one guy, we don’t have one guy that’s 6-[foot]-5,” Vandeventer said. “We’re forced to be a team together and we’re pushing each other to our limits and looking to go up the ranks as a team.”