Palo Alto and Los Altos played for the Central Coast Section Division I boys water polo title three years ago, with Paly earning the victory.
Since then, Los Altos has compiled a 35-4 record with an appearance in the Open Division. Palo Alto suffered through two losing seasons.
The teams met again Tuesday with Palo Alto beating Los Altos 10-6 in a SCVAL De Anza Division game to improve to 8-6 overall, 5-3 in league play. The Eagles fell to 2-11, 2-6.
"Our team's job is to beat the teams we need to beat," Palo Alto team captain Julian Chow said. "We were a senior heavy team last year. This team is young and we've improved."
The Vikings have tangible results to prove it. They played in the Soquel tournament at the beginning of the year and discovered it was possible to play well. Palo Alto finished second in the recently-concluded Santa Teresa tournament.
"We lost by two to Northgate (from Walnut Creek) and that gave us confidence," Chow said. "We may be young but we know we're capable of making it to the CCS."
Los Altos coach Seth Tasman has already lost three times as many games as he had in the past two seasons combined.
Since 2017, the Eagles have compiled a 75-21 mark, 41-6 in the De Anza Division, with five of those losses coming in one year.
This year may be frustrating Tasman but he's not showing it. His most experienced player is goalie Aidan Mitchell, one of three seniors on the team along with Ian Ciemiewicz and Paolo Iaccarino, who scored three times Tuesday.
"Those guys have really stepped up with their leadership," Tasman said. "We have a young team and this season is about gaining experience and improving every day. When we go into (SCVAL) playoffs, we want to be at our best."
Bob Greene is in his first year as coach at Paly but he's no stranger to the local water polo scene, having spent the previous 38 years coaching at Aragon and Serra.
"We had a nice September and we need a better October," Greene said. "We have a lot of talent at center and we want to work the ball there, move the ball quickly. Our main focus is on defense. We have a nice goalie in Eitan Green."
Several players have shown dramatic improvement since the season started with a scrimmage at St. Francis.
Dave Gormley, who did not play over the summer, "is really putting it together," Greene said. "He's our sprinter and has come through. He gives us speed and the ability to run faster."
The left-handed Jack Henry, usually a perimeter player, is being used at 2-meter. "He's come a long way," Greene said. "He's a perfect complement to Julian."
Henry led the Vikings with three goals. Chow and Ivan Ijzerman each scored twice. Gormley, Damon Schultz and Grant Jauregui also scored.
Jack Wald added two goals for Los Altos and Ryan Bell also scored.