The La Quinta High School boys’ water polo team nearly pitched a shutout Thursday, easily winning its first-round CIF playoff match against visiting Carpinteria 19-2.
It was the first playoff victory for this group of Blackhawks, who were eliminated in the first round of the postseason last year. They came back strong this season to win the Desert Valley League for the first time in school history.
Leading the scoring for the Blackhawks were Trent Rubio and Aaron Lowell, who both scored five. Rubio added three assists and four steals, while Lowell chipped in with two assists.
“It was cool to destroy the other team,” Rubio said. “We knew if we put our minds to it we could.”
Although the junior’s assessment would seem accurate considering the lopsided score, La Quinta head coach Cal Lowell didn’t see it that way.
“It really wasn’t easy. The score belies the contest, or battle inside,” Lowell said. “(Our) passes and vision and alertness were misfiring. Perhaps it was first-round jitters, but we weren’t going to overlook these guys, (we) played well enough.”
It took a while for the Blackhawks to get going, leading 2-0 after the first period on goals by Jon Claridge and Rubio. But in the second quarter, La Quinta scored seven unanswered to go into halftime up 9-0.
The Warriors didn’t score their two goals until there was less than four minutes remaining in the match and it was well out of reach.
Also contributing for the Blackhawks were Reilly Becker, who had three goals and four steals, Jordan Burton with two goals and three assists, and Claridge who scored twice.
Goaltender Zach Sloan had five saves.
“They really didn’t have any offensive plays, they just kind of came and tried to shoot, but we’ve been practicing hard these last two weeks before CIF and it paid off,” Rubio said.
Carpinteria head coach Bryan Swarm agreed that his team’s offense was lacking.
“There are no excuses, we knew they’d be good and we played OK defense, despite the score, but we were basically shut out,” Swarm said. “It was hard to slow them down once they got going and after the first quarter we stopped shooting.”
La Quinta plays its second-round game Saturday on the road at Lakeside at a time yet to be determined.