“Right now, for us, the playoffs have started. This was our first playoff game,” Davis High boys water polo coach Tracy Stapleton said after Tuesday’s match at Jesuit.
If that’s the case, the Blue Devils are 1-0 in the “playoffs” after defeating the host Marauders, 12-11.
While the game was technically part of the regular season — as is DHS’ home finale against Rio Americano on Thursday — the Devils (20-6) did earn the Delta Valley Conference championship with Tuesday’s win.
Stapleton called it a playoff game because of the atmosphere and talent level of the opponent. In fact, in front of a large crowd on Tuesday night, Jesuit took a 3-1 lead in the first quarter.
The Devils, however, stormed back to take a 4-3 advantage, then stayed ahead the rest of the way. They led 12-9 before the Marauders scored a couple of goals in the final minute.
“We know we have some things to clean up,” Stapleton said. “But we are confident because this was a playoff atmosphere, and we have some great opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, and we still got the W.”
Graham Fullerton and Conrad McCarthy had hat tricks to pace the locals, while Brad Nicholson and Tyler Ujifusa added two goals apiece. Single tallies from Valente Dolcini and Garrett Fisk completed the scoring, and Stapleton said freshman Cameron Wright and junior goalie Jeff Stark also played well.
“He is going to do well for us at sections,” the coach said of Stark, who has been the starting goalkeeper since he was a freshman. “He has the experience and I have every bit of confidence in him.”