By Keith Peters
The Palo Alto Water Polo Club's 16U Red team had its No. 1 seed tested in the opening round of the SwimOutlet.com Junior Olympics, but made it through the first day unscathed following a pair of victories on Saturday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center.
Coach Clarke Weatherspoon's squad opened with an 18-2 victory over Chicago Park District and then survived a test from SET (Saddleback El Toro), 9-7 in the afternoon.
Stanford trailed by 3-1 in the second game before rallying and taking the lead.
"We came out a little slow and they (SET) was ready to play," Weatherspoon said. "I told the guys to stay with what we do."
Down 3-1 after the first quarter, the Stanford 16U Red team battled back to tie the match at 4 on a goal by Michael Blach. After Stanford failed to capitalize on a 6-on-5 situation with 1:04 left in the half, Jack Pickard scored on a breakaway for a 5-4 lead.
After SET tied the match at 5 early in the third quarter, Michael Swart scored to put Stanford on top again, 6-5.
In the fourth quarter, Blach tallied his second goal for a 7-5 margin with 4:07 left to play, but SET countered with a power-play goal and it was 7-6.
With under three minutes to play, Nelson Perla-Ward tallied a goal for an 8-6 lead and Harrison Enright pushed it to 9-6 on his third goal with 1:14 left to play, providing Stanford with plenty of cushion.
"With this tournament, you have to play the whole game," said Weatherspoon, who coached a number of his current players on the 14U Red team last season. "The key is to keep every single game close."
The Stanford 16U Red squad moves to San Jose State on Sunday for games at 10:20 a.m. (Clovis WPC) and 1:40 p.m. (Elite WPC).
The Stanford 18U Red team, coached by Terry O'Donnell, opened defense of their division title with a 17-8 victory over Viper Pigeon Green and a 15-1 triumph over CHAWP. The 18s will remain at Palo Alto High on Sunday for games at 7 a.m. (SoCal Black) and 1 p.m. (Rose Bowl).
The Stanford 18U White squad, coached by Brandon Johnson, dropped a pair of games on Saturday, losing to Los Angeles WPC, 8-3, and Olimpkian, 10-7. Stanford will play second-round matches at Gunn on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The Stanford 16U White team, coached by Matt Johnson, posted a pair of victories in the Challenge Division (non-championship bracket) -- 15-3 over Scripps Water Polo Club and 15-6 over A2 WPC. Stanford will be back in action Sunday at Sacred Heart Prep at 8:40 a.m. and SoCal Gold.
The Stanford 14U Red team, coached by Colin Mello, opened with a 16-3 win over Greenwich and an 11-3 triumph over United Blue. The team will be back in action Sunday at San Lorenzo Valley High at 10:20 a.m and 1:40 p.m.
In other matches:
The Stanford 14U White squad lost to South Florida in a shootout and dropped a 17-12 decision to Olimpikian; the 12U Red defeated SoCal Gold, 8-7; but lost to Commerce, 9-6, and Lamorinda A, 10-8; and the 12U White lost to South Bay United, 14-2, but bounced back with a 7-5 win over American River before losing to Capo Valley Alliance A, 19-1.
The four-day tournament, billed as the largest water polo tournament in the world, wraps up Tuesday, followed by the four-day girls' tourney from Aug. 2-5.
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