By Andrew Shortall
WESTWOOD — After cruising to a 25-goal win when it first faced Milken Community, there wasn't much doubt the Flintridge Prep boys' water polo team would enjoy another win when it met the Wildcats again Monday.
Instead of seeing how high they could run up the score, the Rebels focused instead on defense and the execution of set plays. It led to a 17-3 Prep League victory at UCLA.
“Our goal was to not allow them to score any goals,” said Prep's Ethan Vandeventer, who finished with a game-high six goals, three steals and one assist. “We didn't really care about the offense because we knew it was there, we just really wanted to work on our defense and we improved from last game.”
That last game was a heartbreaking, 15-14, overtime league loss at Webb on Saturday. Flintridge Prep's focus and execution Monday helped erase those bitter memories a bit.
“This was good because everyone studied their notes, recognized where they needed to be [on offense] and I felt we were all on the same page,” said Prep assistant coach Bryan Russell, who took over for head Coach Dan Hare, who was out sick. “We were sort of able to recover from [Webb], reunite as a team and come together and pull out a win.”
Flintridge Prep (10-8, 4-1 in league) converted on five of its seven six-on-five opportunities against Milken (1-4 in league) and had a number of other goals come on counter attacks, as it clearly had a speed advantage.
Carlo Sivilotti and Jamie Walker had four and two goals, respectively, for Prep. The Rebels had five other players score. Harrison Wagener and Diego Delgado had game-highs in assists (three) and steals (four) for the Rebels.
Russell treated the game as an “intrasquad competition” and often shuffled his entire lineup.
By the time Milken got on the board, it merely served to break Prep's 13-0 run to open the game. The Wildcats’ first goal came on a man-advantage with 48 seconds left in the third. In all, Milken was one of five on six-on-fives, outshot, 26-15, and lost the turnover battle, 24-15.
Vandeventer helped Flintridge Prep a 3-0 lead after the first quarter. He scored two goals and helped set up a Will Newman tally.
The Rebels scored five times in each the second and third quarters to take a commanding 13-1 edge. Sivilotti scored twice in the second and Vandeventer had three more goals in the third.
In all, the win helped the Rebels rebound from their recent gut-wrenching loss.
“It's just one loss, we've just to pick it up,” Vandeventer said. “We've got a tough stretch ahead and we've got to keep playing. We have to battle, not all games are going to be this easy.”