Just in case anyone forgot which team is the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section boys water polo champions, Davis High reminded everyone on Thursday.
In the Blue Devils’ 14-3 dismantling of El Camino at Arroyo Pool, the loss of four-year standout Connor Stapleton to graduation was hardly noticeable.
After scoring the game’s first goal, the Eagles offense was grounded by an impressive DHS defense. Devil defenders were everywhere, allowing only nine shots the entire contest and making life much easier for the local goalkeepers.
On the other end of the pool, the Davis offense was hyperactive, with several players making large impacts on the game.
One of those impact players was Cameron Wright, a freshman who had showed enough to earn a starting nod in the season opener. On Thursday, he played like a senior in the pool, netting three goals in the first quarter and adding a nice assist to senior Garrett Fisk, who dominated the middle of the pool.
Fisk scored twice, including the first goal of the Blue Devil season to tie the game at 1-1. Fellow seniors Tyler Ujifusa (hat trick) and Bradley Nicholson (two tallies) also excelled offensively.
Nicholson added three assists in the match, while DHS seniors Graham Fullerton and Zac Anderson, junior Conrad McCarthy and freshman Nick Masson each found the cage once to round out the Devil scoring.
Though the offense put up big numbers, it was the Davis defense that earned special commendations from head coach Tracy Stapleton.
“I thought our defense did a good job,” Stapleton said after the game. “And that’s something we’re focusing on this time of year. I thought we definitely have made some progress defensively.”
Junior goalkeeper Jeff Stark was on his game, allowing only two goals in his three quarters of action, and making several impressive saves. The defense stopped most opposing possessions quickly, getting 11 steals, many of which set up successful offensive counterattacks.
It was a strong performance, especially for an opener, but the Blue Devils were not flawless, according to Stapleton:
“We need to work on communication. We need to work a little bit on spacing and offense and in transition.”
Although those problems were not very noticeable in Thursday’s easy, it will be important for them to be fixed before teams like Granite Bay, a major area challenger, come to town.
But that doesn’t happen until Sept. 19, giving Stapleton two weeks of practice — and another seemingly easy matchup against Laguna Creek on Sept. 17 — to work with his guys.
— Reach Spencer Ault at firstname.lastname@example.org