Water polo team makes history

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West Hills_David_Arce.jpg

The West Hills High School boys water polo team recorded a history-making moment on Nov. 8 when the Wolf Pack recorded its first-ever playoff victory at its new campus pool.

“Our goals were two-part this season — to get to 20 wins and make it past the first round of the playoffs,” WHHS coach James Searles said.

The West Hills High School boys water polo team recorded a history-making moment on Nov. 8 when the Wolf Pack recorded its first-ever playoff victory at its new campus pool.

“Our goals were two-part this season — to get to 20 wins and make it past the first round of the playoffs,” WHHS coach James Searles said.

The Wolf Pack, seeded seventh in this year’s San Diego Section Division II playoff bracket, picked up its 20th victory of the 2012 season when it topped the 10th-seeded Hilltop Lancers, 15-9, in a first-round match-up.
The win propelled West Hills to the quarterfinals, where the Wolf Pack (20-11) ended its season with a 15-6 setback to second-seeded University City on Nov. 10.

Searles noted that the win over Hilltop always will occupy a milestone in the program’s history.“That’s a very special win,” he said.

The campus pool, built at a cost of $4.2 million, opened last spring in time for the swim season. The impact of the pool was immediate: the team no longer had to share pool time at Santana High School for practices and “home” games.

It also served as an invaluable recruiting tool. This year’s West Hills team is larger than ever. “It’s built a sense of community at our school,” Searles said. “It’s made for a much better atmosphere at our games.”
It was obvious fans thoroughly enjoyed the team’s first-ever official home playoff game as they chanted “Wolf-Pack! Wolf-Pack!” with each West Hills goal.
Searles called the atmosphere “amazing.”

The WHHS coach attributed his team’s success this season to strong defensive play.
The Wolf Pack recorded 11 field blocks and 14 steals against Hilltop to go with 16 saves by senior goalie Eric Osborn, an all-tournament selection at the East County Invitational.
Osborn limited Hilltop senior Nick Howard, the state’s scoring leader with 199 regular season goals, to three goals in the first half — six total in the game.

“He really made our season,” Searles said of Osborn.
Team leaders this season also included senior two-meter set Justin Shephard and senior two-meter guard Caleb Davies, a four-year letter-winner. Davies was held to one goal against Hilltop but contributed defensively with four steals and four field blocks. Searles termed the playoff victory a “whole team effort.”

David Arce scored five goals and had five steals while Shephard scored four goals and added two steals. Kyle Blockson had three goals, and two assists while Luke Fonzi and Eric Mitchell each scored single goals. “Everyone stepped up,” Searles said.

The San Diego Section championships are scheduled Saturday, Nov. 17, at La Jolla High School. Game times are 2:30 p.m. (Division III), 5 p.m. (Division I) and 7:30 p.m. (Division II).
Advancing to Wednesday’s Division I semifinals were third-seeded Granite Hills (21-10) and fourth-seeded Grossmont (24-5), this year’s Grossmont Hills League co-champions.

Clay Wilson led Grossmont with seven goals in the Foothillers’ 14-11 quarterfinal win against fifth-seeded Rancho Buena Vista while Thomas Krueger had five goals in Granite Hills’ 9-4 quarterfinal victory against sixth-seeded Torrey Pines.

Grossmont Valley League champion Santana, seeded fifth in Division III, ended its season with a 12-9 loss to fourth-seeded La Jolla last Friday. The Sultans (25-6) topped South Bay League champion Mar Vista, 20-8, in first-round play on Nov. 7.

For updates, visit the website at www.cifsds.org.

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