By Tom Andrew

The 2020 high school season is off to an exciting start in TISCA Water Polo’s West Region as we saw 19 boys and girls teams take to the pool last weekend at the Longhorn Spring Invite held at the Texas Swim Center.

On the girl’s end, the LASA (newly christened) Velociraptors are off to a hot start as the only side to take home two wins with victories over Waco and Round Rock. The team relied on strong defense led by senior goalie Katie Havranek and a balanced offensive attack that allowed juniors Lilli Gordon and Ellen Larson to score in transition as well as the front court.

Coming in next are Cedar Ridge and Anderson who both had one big win over Vandegrift/Lake Travis and Waco Midway respectively and then a draw when they went head to head. Anderson was led by the goalie/field player duo of sophomore Amanda Easter and junior Kate Halter. Both girls split time in the cage in addition to leading their teams in scoring. Junior Claire Rogillio also stepped up to contribute with several steals as well as counterattack goals. The Cedar Ridge side saw big games from juniors Tressa Lengenohl and Kennedy Dulin on offense in addition to solid all around play from sophomore Makayla Keating and defensive effort from senior Chloe Finch.

Finishing with one win and one loss are the Round Rock Dragons and the Austin High Maroons. Round Rock was competitive in both games, taking home the win over Austin and then dropping a close one against LASA. Round Rock was paced on both ends of the pool by senior captains Callie and Delaney Scott and also received help on the scoring end from fellow seniors London Zwerneman and Zairis Padilla. Austin High fell to Round Rock by three goals and then came up with a big win over the Waco JV squad. The team was led in the field by the trio of Gwen Sloat, Lauren Latimer, and Ella Thomas. All three girls contributed on offense as well as helping secure several defensive stops. Goalie Barbara Kulchisky was also a standout in the cage as she recorded her first official games as starting goalkeeper.

Next up we have the Waco and Vandegrift/Lake Travis squads who played tough against some of the best teams in the region. Although Waco was unable to finish with a win on the day, they did have a strong performance from sophomore Genevieve Biberdorf who found the back of the net for two goals against LASA. The Vandegrift/Lake Travis team was joined by several McCallum girls, most of whom were participating in their first water polo competition. The girls were able to take a win over the Waco JV team before falling to Cedar Ridge in their second game. The squad saw major contributions from Vandegrift senior Caroline Denison in the field and McCallum goalie Emily Carrroll in the cage.

On the boys side of the pool, we saw the trio of McCallum, Anderson, and Austin High Schools emerge undefeated on the day. McCallum boasted the largest margin of victory with big wins over Waco and Round Rock. The team saw major contributions from Seniors Cole Kershner, Tomas Chu, and Ivan Zaplatar in the field and a solid outing from freshman Spencer McNelis in the goal. Anderson picked up a convincing victory over Cedar Ridge and then had a bit of a scare as they staved off a late surge to escape with the win over Cedar Park. The team was led in the field by the senior duo of Bennett Buchanan and Lance Butler. Freshman Isaac Fox stepped up admirably in his first outing as goalie and registered 15 blocks over the weekend. Austin High rounds out the 2-0 teams and managed to look fairly solid despite missing several athletes from their roster. The Maroons saw big offensive games from sophomore Owen Murphy who led the team with 10 goals on the day. Senior Cooper Gaderson controlled the games by leading the team in steals, assists, and drawn ejections while junior Sage Jones chipped in several point blank stops in the goal.

Next up we have LASA, Cedar Park, and LASA JV who were all 1-1 on the day. LASA picked up a big win over Cedar Ridge before dropping their second (non-conference) game to San Antonio. Seniors Lucas Abounader and Allen Li led the team offensively while junior Patrick Haney racked up the blocks as primary goalkeeper. Cedar Park fell in a close game to Anderson but managed to pick up a big win over Vandegrift. The Timberwolves saw big contributions from Senior Zach Ford working in 2 meters while fellow Senior Colby Sullivan preferred to strike from long range. Junior goalkeeper Dylan Sullivan supplemented his block total with an exciting full court score in the Anderson game. LASA JV started the day with a solid victory over Vandegrift before falling to Longhorn in the final game of the night. The squad was led in scoring by sophomores Octavio Conde De Frankenberg and Billy Flukinger. In the goal, fellow freshmen Manu Singhal and Eric Haney both came up with huge stops and counterattack outlets to set up scoring opportunities.

Finishing 0-2 on the day were Waco, Round Rock, Cedar Ridge, and Vandegrift. Round Rock finished as one of the more potent offensive teams on the day and will be a scary matchup for any team once they shore up on the defensive end. Senior Spencer Campbell paced the team with 9 goals on the day while junior Ethan Patterson also picked up a hat trick in the game against Austin. Waco was led by big contributions from the senior class of JT Sword and Toby Smyers in the field and Blake Singleterry in the goal. For Cedar Ridge, it was all juniors as the class of 2021 accounted for all but one of the Raiders goals on the day. In the cage, you guessed it, juniors Zhenya Jensen Buchannon and Patrick Jenkins led the way with blocks and one full court strike. Finally, Vandegrift rounded out the day with big contributions from seniors Bradley Guy and Brandon Wong. Bradley led the team on offense while Brandon used his length and leg strength to snag several steals out of the air. Freshman goalie Leo Pozhenko stood out in his first appearances in the goal.

Moving forward, we will be treated to four undefeated teams going head to head this week as LASA v Anderson girls match takes place Tuesday evening at the Texas Swim Center followed by Austin v Anderson boys on Thursday.

Click here for more news from the TISCA Water Polo West Region.

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