By Will Minck
The Loyola varsity water polo team, currently the third-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section, has started the 2015-16 season with a record of 10-2. On Sept. 3, the Cubs kicked off their season with a 23–1win against Peninsula High School. The Cubs continued their run by defeating Ventura (21-4), Santa Margarita (11-6), and Dana Hills (9-5). On Sept. 12, the team competed in the Santa Barbara Tournament.
In the semifinal match of the tournament, the Cubs faced off against Mater Dei, currently the second-ranked team in CIF. The Cubs had to play without their starting senior goalie, Will Rubschlager, who had to take the ACT that day. Senior second-string goalie Matt Neumann stepped up to the plate, according to Rubschlager. “Matt played extremely well and even had a strong 5-meter [penalty shot]block that really boosted our team to keep going hard in the game,” Rubschlager said. After battling the entire game, the Cubs fell to the Monarchs 7–9. Varsity head coach Erik Healy commented, “We will need to have a better focus on playing four quarters of defensive-minded water polo. We also need to work on not trading goals with opponents.”
Following the loss against Mater Dei, the Cubs faced off against Huntington Beach, the team that knocked Loyola out of the CIF playoffs in last year’s quarterfinal game. This time the Cubs were more focused throughout the entire game, according to senior center Giacomo Lovatelli, and won 7–6, placing third in the tournament.
Although the Aqua Cubs lost, they look forward to facing Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake again, as they are the big matchups that the team prepares for every year. The Cubs need to be able to beat these teams in order to have a chance at winning the CIF title this year, according to Healy. Senior starting driver Armen Deirmenjian said, “In these big matchups, we know we have the skills to beat them [Harvard-Westlake and Mater Dei]. The outcomes depend on our mentality. If we have a winning mentality, we can compete.”
On Sept. 16 the Aqua Cubs traveled down to Santiago Canyon College to play against Orange Lutheran. At the end of regulation, the score was tied 6-6, sending the game into overtime. With 52 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Deirmenjian scored the sudden death goal.
The Cubs continued their impressive start to the season in the South Coast Tournament at Santa Margarita and Newport Harbor on Sept. 25–26, going 3-1 to move their overall record to 10-2.
Varsity Head Coach Erik Healy said, “We will need to have a better focus on playing 4 quarters of defensive minded water polo. We also need to work on not trading goals with opponents.”