Morro Bay’s Pirates came out shooting, putting up three quick goals on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Pioneer Valley Panthers in a boys water polo match Wednesday afternoon in Santa Maria.
The Pirates scored on three of their first four first-quarter possessions to build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.
The only thing for certain heading into the non-league game was that one team would break through for its first victory of the young season.
“We lost our only game of the season,” said Morro Bay head coach John Taylor. “And that was two weeks ago against Atascadero. We’ve had trouble filling our preseason schedule so we didn’t have a game last week.”
“We lost our opener against Cate and lost Tuesday to Santa Maria,” said Pioneer Valley head coach Paul DePaulo. “But we’re a young team – mostly freshmen and sophomores. I’ve already seen a lot of improvement.”
The Pirates (1-1) wasted no time getting back into an offensive rhythm when Brayden Correia took a pass on the right wing from 2-meter man Levi Krull and drilled a shot past Pioneer Valley goalkeeper Gervesh Nanalis just over a minute into the game.
The Pirates’ Grannan Staeheli made it 2-0 with a shot from the left wing 2:31 into the quarter coming off another Krull pass.
Krull then launched a point-blank shot from directly in front of the goal with 2:38 left in the 7-minute quarter to give Morro Bay an early 3-0 lead.
It wasn’t as though the Pirates were dominating the action.
The Panthers had several excellent scoring opportunities but came up just short of the net.
Pioneer Valley opened the game with a shot that bounced off the cross bar, bouncing over the net.
On their second possession, a Panthers’ shot was just a bit too high.
After Morro Bay’s second goal, PV’s Angel Aguilar rocketed a shot to the right side of the goal. Morro Bay keeper Hiram Burras jumped in front of the ball at the last second to make the block.
The Panthers controlled the action for most of the second quarter.
Pioneer Valley continuously rushed the net and got off several shots – two were deflected in the field of play while Burras made two great saves including a spectacular save on an Adam Garcia bullet.
With only seconds left in the first half, the Pirates made a quick rush on the Panthers.
Dylan Downing took a pass from Krull and, like a volleyball player spiking the ball, rifled a shot into the net for a 4-0 lead with 13-seconds remaining in the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Panthers began chipping away at the lead.
With the 30-second shot clock winding down, the Panthers’ Marcos Salazar had the ball deep in the center of the pool. Salazar was about 10 meters out with everyone, except his own goalie, in front of him.
With his teammates shouting “shoot, shoot,” Salazar let one fly, beating Morro Bay’s Burras to his right side to pull Pioneer Valley to 4-1 with 4:31 left in the game.
The Pirates called time out and coach Taylor pulled all his starters.
After a Morro Bay shot hit the goal post, Pioneer Valley pushed its attack.
Aguilar took a shot that bounced off the goal post. It caromed to teammate Gilbert Robles who threw it past backup goalie Jesse Velte, cutting the Morro Bay lead to 4-2 with 2:21 left in the game.
Morro Bay called a quick timeout with Taylor putting his starters back in.
On a power play with 1:02 left to play, Krull netted his second goal.
On their next possession, Andrew Monroe took a pass from Krull, squared up and scored the game’s final goal.
“We’re one big team – a team with a lot of potential,” said Taylor. “They boys followed our game plan and I think the whole team in general stood out.”
“Marcos and Gilbert each scored a goal. Angel had an assist and Gervesh, in goal, had some good blocks and Larry Daniel showed a lot of improvement,” said DePaulo. “These kids have a great attitude. They are eager to learn. I’m sure we’ll see big improvement over the course of the year.”
Pioneer Valley’s busy week continues Thursday when the Panthers host the Nipomo Titans. Pioneer Valley then hosts the Panther Tournament Friday and Saturday.