Published Nov. 2, 2023
BY DANIELA FOLEY
Following a successful season filled with goals, blocks and wins, the Carmel High boys’ water polo team made a splash, ending in second place in the Pacific Coast Athletic League but will continue to CCS nevertheless.
Led by head coach John Norall, the Padres were undefeated in league until Sept. 19 when they played Stevenson, resulting in a nail-biting 9-8 loss.
Prior to league championships, the team had a cumulative 15-8 overall record and performed well in their own league with six wins and a single loss by just one goal. Despite a promising season, on Oct. 26 the team played in the Pacific Coast League Championships preliminary round against Pacific Grove in a close battle and ultimately lost 7-8, losing their bid to Central Coast Section playoffs.
However, two open spots for CCS are available for teams who did not originally make the cut. A meeting was held to determine who would be playing and the boys water polo team was ultimately chosen, sparking excitement within the team.
The team’s success during the season was due to their dedication and hard work, according to Norall. The team started training in August for the fall season to ensure they were ready to pummel the competition. The team typically practices two and a half hours a day, six days a week and has integrated lifting weights bi-weekly to aid them in the pool.
“We condition almost every single practice, and there are never any complaints,” Norall says. “They are willing to do the work. When you have a team that’s willing to do the work, it makes the rest easy.”
This practice schedule assured that the team was in shape to play and increased the players’ water fluency, according to Norall.
“We swim harder than any other team in the peninsula, and that [was] really shining through,” says sophomore Jackson Balas, a two-year varsity player whose 61 goals this year had him as the top Carmel scorer, according to MBayPreps.
As the team was group-focused, the team had an even dispersion of players between sophomore and senior year. Having a younger team with fewer seniors changed the perspective of the team and ultimately motivated the sophomores and juniors to improve, according to Norall.
“Team improvement is extremely important at Carmel,” says London Selby-Lara, one of the three senior team captains. “It [was] one of our major goals to improve every day so that we [could] play our best by the end of the season.”
Selby-Lara, who played water polo for 10 years, acted as an extension of coaches by running warm-ups before practices and games, ensuring team focus and maintaining team morale.