The Beckman Patriot boys water polo team won another thriller over the Northwood Timberwolves in a Pacific Coast League playoff game at home, 6-5, to claim sole possession of 3rd place in the PCL and an automatic berth in the CIF Division 3 playoffs. The Patriots finished the regular season with a 6-5 PCL record and 17-12 overall; playing 10 games in the last 8 days and going 8-2 during this stretch. This will be the third consecutive year that Beckman has qualified outright for the playoffs, which begin next week. CIF brackets will be released on Saturday, October 28. OC Register Coverage, Game video
The Beckman boys water polo team started off the week with resounding victories on back-back days over Irvine and University. Going into Wednesday’s road match at CDM, which ends Beckman’s regular season, the Patriots are 5-4 in league play – tied with Northwood for 3rd place which carries an automatic CIF playoff berth. If Beckman and Northwood both end the regular season on Thursday with a 5-5 league record, a tiebreaker for 3rd place will be determined.
In Monday’s final regular season home game versus Irvine, the Patriots won 16-8 behind Sophomore Eli Schwarz’s five goals, with Seniors Aviv Zohman and Patrick Hajali scoring three each. Finishing up the scoring for Beckman was Junior Trevor Grubb with two goals, Seniors Chase Himler and Travis Ruoff scoring a goal each – as well as freshman Richie Yun. Zohman, Spaan, and Yun also had three assists each. Defensively, the Patriots were led by Senior goalie Matt Tran, with ten saves, and making his first appearance of the season was freshman goalie Sam Monette with three saves. Ruoff and Yun registered three steals each.
In Tuesday’s match at University, the Patriots easily won the game 18-10 behind Senior Aviv Zohman’s six goals. and Senior Baylor Reynoso with three goals. Chipping in with two goals each were Senior Travis Ruoff, Junior Trevor Grubb, and Sophomore Elijah Clark. Sophomore Eli Schwarz and Freshmen Richie Yun and Dylan Gambill each contributed a goal. Schwarz and Yun also had three assists each. Defensively for the Patriots, goalies Matt Tran (Senior) and Sam Monette (Freshman) had five saves each. Yun also had four steals.
They. Were. Dead. In. The. Water. (Literally)
There they were, the Beckman boys water polo team, facing a humiliating loss in their own pool to archrival Northwood – on Senior Day no less! This Beckman team was already having a rough week with home losses to CDM and Woodbridge and here was their third very significant game in four days, staring at an improbable 8-3 deficit entering the fourth period.
But on Senior Day, they had a senior moment. Many of them, in fact. With a huge and raucous home crowd cheering them on (excellent turnout by the student body!) – Beckman chipped and clawed away at what seemed to be a very insurmountable lead – forcing turnovers, and suddenly the goals started going in. Within a span of 6:38 that lead totally evaporated. And one of the most epic, if not the most epic, of all Beckman water polo comebacks was born.
Senior Aviv Zohman cut the deficit to 8-5 with two goals three minutes apart, both from five meters out, and then Senior Chase Himler scored with 2:06 left in the fourth from five meters and suddenly – the Patriots were back in it! With the crowd getting louder and louder and the action more and more intense (many turnovers on both sides), Himler scored again with 17 seconds left from at least nine meters out, drilling a beautiful corner shot and there was a glimmer of hope left for the Patriots.
Northwood took a timeout to plot out their final seconds and as soon as the whistle blew, the Patriots put on a full court press, forcing the Timberwolves to make an errant pass towards the Beckman goal. Senior goalie Matt Tran and Himler both converged, forcing a turnover with only seconds left in the game. With the ball nearly in the Beckman goal, Himler quickly snatched it up and saw Senior Travis Ruoff all alone and five meters out in front of the Northwood goal, hitting him with a perfect strike. Those next seconds seemed like minutes, as Ruoff juked Northwood goalie Leon Shi several times before burying his cross-cage shot with 0:00 on the clock. And the Beckman crowd erupted while the Northwood contingent sat stunned over this incredible turn of events. This was headed into OT!
The first overtime period was scoreless with Senior goalie Matt Tran making the most important of his eight saves and unbelievably, Beckman was headed into their third double OT game of the season! The first minute of the second OT period saw even more physical play, and Beckman got the ball back with 2:08 left on a costly ejection by Northwood. Beckman head Coach Duje Grubisic called a timeout to set up the Patriots’ 6 on 5 attack. The Patriots worked the ball around and almost threw the ball away but Zohman retrieved it and hit Sophmore AJ Marsh on the left side with time running out in the possession, and he nailed a corner shot with 1:45 left for what would be the winning goal. Beckman’s press held the rest of the way and the game ended – the fans, coaches and players all delirious over what had just ensued.
For Beckman offensively, Himler had three goals (and added four assists), Zohman and Sophmore Eli Schwarz had two goals each. Ruoff had the game-tying goal, and Marsh had the game-winning goal to round out the scoring. Defensively, Tran had eight saves and an amazing eleven steals in goal for the Patriots.
Next up: The Patriots play Friday-Saturday in the Steve Pal Memorial Tournament before the final week of the regular season.
The Beckman Patriots (9-8 overall; 2-2 league) tuned up for what is possibly the biggest, and most important, week ahead in the history of the program – with an 18-3 road victory against the Irvine Vaqueros. Next week, the Patriots have three significant home games with Division 3 ranking implications; Monday vs. Corona Del Mar, and two highly-anticipated rematches: Tuesday against Woodbridge and Thursday against Northwood on Beckman Patriot Senior Day.
In the Irvine game, Beckman was led by Senior Aviv Zohman with a team season high of seven goals. A trio of Patriots scored three goals each: Senior Baylor Reynoso, Junior Trevor Grubb, and Sophomore AJ Marsh. Rounding out the scoring was Sophmore Eli Schwarz with two goals, and Senior Chase Himler had five assists.