The Xavier Prep High School water polo team is ranked No. 1 in Division 7, but a date with perennial DVL power Palm Desert on Wednesday showed that being the best in the league will be more difficult than being the best in the division.
Palm Desert’s stingy defense ruled the day as the Division 4 Aztecs held Xavier Prep to only two goals in the final three-and-a-half quarters of the match en route to a 12-4 victory.
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Xavier Prep was fast out of the gate, scoring the game’s first two goals on a penalty shot by Troy Boydstun and a pretty touch shot by Tiernan Kelly, but once the Aztecs settled in on defense, it was one-sided.
Palm Desert didn’t allow Saints’ star Boydstun to get comfortable as they focused their defensive efforts on him. Boydstun did score three of the Saints’ four goals, but his constant physical battles with Palm Desert stud Ryan Sawyer were fun to watch.
Neither Xavier Prep coach Pavol Valovic nor Palm Desert coach Michelle Valovic (yes, they are married) were going to allow the other team’s star to beat them.
It was an exciting matchup, though, as both top players, for the most part, guarded each other all over the pool. Often, the one with the ball rose up only to have his shot swatted back at him by the one playing defense. It was a great head-to-head slugfest.
The difference in the game was that Sawyer, who was also the focus of the Saints’ defense, of course, had a little more help offensively. Sawyer had three goals on the night, but five other Aztecs found the back of the net including Mitch Conrow who also scored three times.
After falling behind 2-0, the Aztecs scored 12 of the next 13 goals to take command.
The Aztecs, now 3-0 in the Desert Valley League, play at Beaumont on Friday, before hosting Indio on Tuesday and La Quinta on Thursday. Xavier Prep (2-1 in DVL) hosts Shadow Hills on Tuesday.