Warrior water polo 2-3 in America’s Finest Tournament

Fallbrook High School’s boys water polo team won two games and lost three during America’s Finest Tournament competition Sept. 21 to 22.

“We did all right. It’s a very competitive tournament,” said Fallbrook coach Bill Richardson.

The official finishes in the tournament are based on brackets after each round of play rather than on overall record. Fallbrook’s wins in the second and fifth rounds placed the Warriors 23rd among the 32 teams. Last year the Warriors won only their final game in the tournament to take 31st place. In the 2012 tournament, Fallbrook beat both CIF San Diego Section opponents – and since both are Division I schools the results could have relevance at the CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting.

The Warriors opened the tournament with two Sept. 21 games at Coronado High School. The first was a 12-1 loss to Damien High School of LaVerne. “We actually played pretty well,” Richardson said. “Our defense was doing a pretty good job of not at least giving them an easy goal.”

Fallbrook goalie Ben Matthews made eight saves against the Spartans. The Warriors missed 20 shots against Damien. “We couldn’t generate much of an offense,” Richardson said. “They had an outstanding goalie.”

The Warriors’ second Sept. 21 game was a 15-11 victory over Eastlake. Austin Fagrell scored five of Fallbrook’s goals; Bobby Guerra placed four shots into the Titans’ net, and Eli Foli scored three times while three other Fallbrook players had a goal apiece. “We have a lot of players that can score,” Richardson said.

In water polo an ejection, or exclusion, is a 20-second penalty during which the team must play shorthanded unless the opponent scores a power-play goal. A player with three ejections is majored, or removed from the rest of the game. Fallbrook had 16 ejections against the Titans and three Warriors including two starters were majored. “We’re working on that right now,” Richardson said.

Eastlake converted six of its 16 man-up opportunities. “We did pretty well,” Richardson said of stopping the power play.

Fallbrook’s three Sept. 22 games were played at La Jolla High School’s Coggan Pool. Two Ventura schools handed the Warriors losses to start the day; Ventura High School prevailed by a 13-3 score and Buena High School was on the favorable end of a 14-4 result after the Warriors committed 33 turnovers against the Bulldogs.

“We regrouped,” Richardson said.

Fallbrook’s final tournament game was a 10-9 victory over Torrey Pines High School. “I think it’s been at least 10 years since we’ve beat Torrey Pines, so that was a real nice win,” Richardson said.

The game was tied before Fagrell’s shot went into the net with 10 seconds left. The goal was the fifth for Fagrell in that game. Finn McGrath had two successful shots for the Warriors while three other players contributed a goal apiece. Matthews made 14 saves against the Falcons.

Fallbrook had 10 ejections against Torrey Pines, and the Falcons scored on six of those extra-player opportunities. “It’s just something that we need to learn to eliminate,” Richardson said.

The tournament results gave the Warriors an 8-5 season record. “Our whole team is fairly new to the varsity level (Fagrell is Fallbrook’s only returning starter) so we’re still figuring things out, but we’re doing well,” Richardson said.

The Warriors’ final tournament of 2012 will be the Oct. 22 to 27 San Diego Open.

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