Hayden Aliaga and Hudson Pak each scored two goals but the Stanford 14U A boys water polo team fell to Vanguard, 10-6, in the third-place game of the USA Junior Olympics Tuesday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Club.
The 14Us fell out of title contention after dropping a 6-5 decision to SouCal Black in the morning's semifinal round. Stanford was down, 6-2, and made a spirited comeback try only to fall short.
"I thought we played well," said Aliaga, who will be freshman at Bellarmine in the fall. "It was a lot of nice experience and will help us in the future to stay competitive."
Stanford coach Clarke Weatherspoon, who guided the 14Us to a national championship last year, said he enjoyed this level because it's a big step from the 12U program.
"There's a huge difference in terms of commitment, intensity and performance," he said. "It's going from recreational play to high level competition. It's always challenging. The skills are always ther and it's great to see them come together."
James Kujawa and Jason Kaprelian also scored for the 14U's, who are all about to enter high schools throughout the Central Coast Section.
"The majority are going to Menlo, but there's a wide dispersal among schools in the CCS which keeps the competition intense," Weatherspoon said. "It's good for the the section, which produces a lot of athletes much like PASA does for swimming. It's an area that produces a lot of aquatic athletes and both clubs are like a magnet. It helps to have a world class facility like Stanford."
Playing at the club level, Weatherspoon says, teaches guys how to train at a high level, how to communicate and how to set long term goals. "Those are life skills too," he said.
In addition to the scorers and goalie Joshua Poulus, the team also got contributions from Berk Aksoy, Dexter Gormley, Ian Healy, Greg Hilderbrand, Noah Housenbold, Jack King, Alika Naone, Tony Nardelli, Joseph Gallagher and Mason Rossi.
The Stanford B 14U team finished sixth in the tournament.