After going 1-3 at the S&R Cup in Irvine this weekend, Menlo School boys’ water polo coach Jack Bowen feared his team would take advantage of the weekend’s disappointment to his game against St. Francis on Wednesday.
This despite the fact that his team have played extremely well against some of the best teams in the country.
“We went (to Southern California) and played against some of the best teams in the country,” Bowen said. “1 and 3 is frustrating, but I told them, ‘This weekend will be worth it if we take that level and keep it. “
It turns out that Bowen had nothing to fear. The Knights continued to play at a high level and after falling behind early in the second period, turned on the jets and flew over the Lancers, 19-13, to stay in second place in the West Catholic Athletic race. League.
Leading 4-3 after one period, Menlo (3-1 WCAL, 8-7 overall) saw St. Francis (3-2, 11-5) score a pair of unanswered goals, including Andrew Blanco beating a double team in the hole together, to give the Lancers a 5-4 lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Tommy Kiesling scored about 30 seconds later to tie the game at 5-all. Menlo continued to hold an 8-6 lead with 2:53 left before half-time before erupting to take control of the game.
Kiesling’s goal triggered a 4-1 streak to end the period and give the Knights a 12-7 lead at the break.
“Same [when we fell behind], you could see our system was in place, ”Bowen said. “I was convinced that we would continue like this. “
Part of that system included a quick break that the Lancers just couldn’t keep up with. With such a small team for the Knights this season – they only had one replacement available – conditioning and speed have been our focus this season and it showed on Wednesday. With Menlo goaltenders Cormac Mulloy and Finn Byrne setting off the offense, the Knights swam past St. Francis.
“We’ve been super focused on speed this season,” said Bowen.
Mulloy and Byrne combined six assists while making 12 saves.
All the breaks went in Menlo’s favor, including a chance goal from Teddy Meeks in the third period. After a Knights shot hit the crossbar, St. Francis recovered the rebound and passed the goaltender to start the Lancers’ offense.
But Meeks, who was trailing in front of goal, pulled the ball out of the goalkeeper’s hands and put it in the net to give Menlo a 9-6 lead.
In the third, Greg Hilderbrand was the recipient of a lucky rebound. At the end of the period, Hilderbrand fired a shot three-quarters the length of the pool. The shot deflected a St. Francis outfield who altered the shot, which slipped under the Lancers goaltender’s arm for a goal as time ticked to give the Knights a 17-9 lead. .
There was nothing hit and miss in Hilderbrand’s other goals as he showed unparalleled climb and shot.
“He can go up and still change his angle of attack,” Bowen said. “[Hilderbrand] is a shooting student.
In the fourth, Menlo let the gas go a bit and St. Francis had a short run, but the Lancers’ deficit was too big and the time too short to really threaten a comeback.
Hilderbrand led all scorers, finishing with eight goals. Kiesling added five goals and three assists, while Fang added a hat trick. Randeep Nandal, who was the only available replacement for the Knights, only played a few minutes but managed to make it onto the scoresheet when he passed Meeks down the left wing and scored a goal inside the far right post.
St. Francis was led by Blanco, who finished with five goals.
“St. Francis will never be a snap,” Bowen said. “It’s a game you focus on. “