For the families of Alex and Jacob Tsotadze and Luke and Harrison Rohlen, all students at Sacred Heart Prep, Monday had to include a wide range of emotions.
Alex and Luke, members of the Stanford 16U A club water polo team, started the day on a frustrating note and ended it with national title hopes very much alive.
"Two years ago, when this group played 14U, there were a couple of injuries and a couple of issues and they finished third," Stanford 16U A coach Jamie Frank said. "Then to see the 14Us win it last year just added more fire for the guys. We've talked about this for two years."
Jacob and Harrison, on the other hand, helped Stanford's 12U A team open proceedings with a couple of victories that left them mere inches from a semifinal berth.
The day ended sadly, 38 seconds away from sending the match into a shootout after Stanford rallied from a three-goal deficit to tie it in the final minute.
The 16s and 12s played all their games at Stanford on Monday.
The national defending champion Stanford 14U A boys came out on the short end of a very competitive Junior Olympic quarterfinal match Monday at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose.
Stanford never trailed, but saw Vanguard rally in the fourth quarter to tie 6-6, and then lost 7-6 on penalty shots.
"That was a tough loss, but a good game," Stanford coach Clarke Weatherspoon said.
Stanford led 3-2 after one quarter, 4-3 at halftime and 5-3 after three quarters.
But Vanguard, from Orange County, scored twice in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to make it 5-5 with 4:08 left.
Alika Naone countered at the 3:45 mark with his fourth goal. But Vanguard knotted it up again with 2:23 left in regulation.
In the shootout, Stanford trailed 4-3 when goalkeeper Joshua Poulos, who is headed to Menlo School, blocked a shot. Tony Nardelli followed with a made shot for Stanford to tie.
James Kujawa and Naone made penalty shots before a Stanford shot was blocked to end the match.
"They weren't expecting us to be as good as we were," said Naone, who attends Punahou School in Honolulu. "We gave it 100 percent. They weren't ready for what we brought."
Stanford came back to beat San Diego Shores, 10-7, in the evening to earn its spot.
The 14s play their semifinal game at Stanford at 9 a.m. on Tuesday against SoCal Black A.
The B 14U team plays Foothill Red for fifth place at Sobrato at 11 a.m.
Stanford A 16U
Stanford overwhelmed CC United Black A, 16-3, after dropping an 11-9 match, in a shootout, to the Pride in the morning.
Tsotadze and Menlo School sophomore Sam Untrecht each scored three goals to pace Stanford. M-A junior Nikolas Caryotakis, Miller Geschke and Sacred Heart junior Michael Sonsini each added a pair, while Menlo School juniors Niko Bhatia and Jayden Kunwar and Hunter Barnett also scored.
"The best thing about this group is that they've all been together since age 12," Frank said. "They are really close and guys can play many facets of the game."
Frank figures there will be no need for a pep talk before Tuesday's 7 a.m. game against SoCal Black A at Stanford.
"The message will be play within yourself and do the little things," Frank said. "There will be plenty of adrenaline running through those guys."
Stanford A 12U
Led by Luke Johnston, this is a group of players that will only get better.
The 12s needed to win twice on Monday just to get into position to play for a berth in the semifinals.
They beat 690 Red A, 12-6, and followed that with a 12-3 win over Foothill A, setting up a match with CC United A.
Tied at 6 after three periods, CCU grabbed a 10-7 edge, the largest margin of the day for either team.
Jack Vort drew a penalty, William Swart drew a penalty and each time Johnston nailed the penalty shot.
A third penalty was called on CCU and, remarkably, Johnston converted that one to tie it at 10 with 58 seconds left.
CC United scored with 38 seconds left and instead of showing any frustration, Stanford goalie Griffen Price merely turned to coach Tim Kates and asked for a timeout.
Kates drew up a play for Johnston driving to the net and the play was executed perfectly.
Johnston received the ball in stride and had to physically fight off his defender. No penalty was called this time, yet Johnston still got off a shot that just fell short.
Johnston scored eight goals, five on penalty shots, and was also a factor on defense at the tough two-meter spot.
Most of the team are sixth- and seventh-graders who will certainly be a force the longer they stay longer.
They play Newport Beach A for fifth-place at 12:20 p.m. at Menlo School.
The Stanford B 12U play the Royal 559 Black at DeAnza College at 3:20 p.m. for 15th place.
Also in the championship bracket, the Stanford A 18U team split a pair of matches at Gunn on Monday and meets Lamorinda Blue at 2 p.m. at Bellarmine for 17th place.
Stanford's 18U B team beat Bakersfield, 15-13, in a shootout Monday at West Valley to advance to the semifinals on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Independence against Commerce.
The Stanford C 12U team plays for seventh-place at 1:10 p.m. at DeAnza. They face SB Premier.
The Stanford C 16U team plays for seventh-place at noon at Cabrillo College against HB Orange C.
The Stanford D 16U team meets Flo for a chance to finish fifth at noon at Sacred Heart Prep.
Stanford has two games remaining, both at Stanford on Tuesday. They play Laguna Beach at 7:45 a.m. and SB Premier at 11:15 a.m.