The bleachers were filled with parents from both sides, anxious to secure the win for their respective teams. The cheers and mumbles from the crowd added to the competitive environment, one that would only escalate as the game went on.
On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the MVHS boys water polo team played against Homestead HS, ultimately losing 7-16. Senior Kiril Leckrone specified this game as the last in the first half of the season, a marking point for their progress.
“As the weeks go by, we’re working hard and we start forming a bond that allows us to connect with each other in the pool [and]outside of the pool,” Leckrone said. “That’s pretty much when you get to see the major change throughout the season.”
When the buzzer rang at the start of the game, HHS won the tip-off and snatched possession of the ball, scoring twice within the first 30 seconds. However, MVHS bounced back and scored twice in the period as well. At the end of the first period, the score was 2-7. During the second period, each team kept fighting to gain an inch. By halftime, both sides had made three goals, making the score 5-10.
As both teams got out of the water at halftime, MVHS boys water polo head coach Chris Love offered feedback to his players and motivated them, telling them to bring the same energy, despite their losses, into the second half.
“The bigger picture is working individually on our skills and working as a team,” Love said. “We’re not worried about outcomes of games, we’re worried about getting better.”
Leckrone took the advice to heart, saying that for him, all he wanted was to see his team improve.
“You can’t give up because that’s just not the way to finish a game,” Leckrone said. “Our coach was encouraging us to get back out there and change our attitude and imagine it’s 0-0.”
With Love’s words in mind, the team jumped back into the pool to start the third period. In the beginning, MVHS’ and HHS’ scoring was the same — each time MVHS scored a goal, so did HHS. However, HHS maintained their lead with strong defense and turnovers. As the period went on the crowd grew restless, yelling at the players to shoot or pass or maintain their positions. When the third period ended, the score was 7-13, with MVHS lagging by six points.
The team didn’t let that get to them, though. The fourth period started with them shouting their usual “MV” cheer into the pool gutters, an echo that reflected their morale. While HHS maintained their tough defense, MVHS kept trying to force a turnover. HHS ended up winning the game, but for the MVHS team, what really mattered was the opportunity they got to identify and rectify their mistakes.
“I’m hoping to see us just battle every game,” Leckrone said. “Being able to compete despite the score, I think that’s just everyone’s goal right now.”
MVHS boys water polo will be playing Lynbrook HS on Sept. 28.