Currently, the best of Texas high school water polo tournament is going on and there are quite a few amazing teams but there was one team that should have been considered. Don’t get me wrong all of the teams in the bracket are really good and all won state championships.
Also, me wanting to make a case for the 1999 Cypress Creek champion from the boy side could be seen as being just a bit biased as I was a member of that team. However, that team was really, really good with only two losses all year.
Hopefully, my memory of this team is close to accurate since it has been over 20 years which is a long time ago.
That team going into the 1999 season had the mentality that it was state championship or bust. The year prior, Cypress Creek lost the state championship in overtime to Clear Lake. This 1999 team returned four starters and most of the key contributors off the bench and this was the year that Cypress Creek was going to win its first state title on the boy’s side.
The first time we knew our confidence wanting to win it all was valid came when we played Clear Lake for the first time that year and won. No clue what the score was all these years later but I do remember getting the win and the feeling we had and it was awesome that we beat that team. It was always close games between the two teams during the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
Clear Lake was considered the favorite basically every year and they earned that respect by winning the five previous state titles and ended up going to seven straight, including winning the 2001 title. So, clearly that early-season win meant a lot.
A lot of the games we played were very dominant wins with Cypress Creek winning by at least goals — maybe more but again this is 20 years ago and there are basically no stats or game results — and easily getting into double-figures in each game.
The two games we did lose came under different scenarios. One of the games we lost to was against Baytown Sterling, the team we ultimately would face for the state title. However, that game came over Homecoming weekend so our team was not at full strength and we lost a close one by a couple of goals and was close until the end.
That loss was thrown to the side since we were missing some starters but it was good to know despite that we were still on the same level as one of the best teams that year.
The other game was a one in a kind matchup. A series of games was set up between Harvard-Westlake and a handful of the top teams in Texas. Harvard-Westlake is from Los Angeles and one of the best programs in Southern California. Clearly, we were pumped for the game to play a program that was from California.
The game was to be scheduled at the Woodlands facility to have it be all deep but as weather goes in Houston, thunderstorms came and axed that plan so we had to move the game to a less than ideal situation in a shallow-deep pool,
Even though the game had no bearing on anything for seeding or standings, we all wanted to prove we were as good or even better than this team. I honestly don’t recall at the time how much we were told about the team outside of their location, which may have been for the better.
The game was our only other loss all year and it was a fun game to play. We had so much speed on this team as a few guys went onto swim at the NCAA level so that helped a lot but the game still did not go our way. A few things about this game that were interesting was that we played them extremely close at the half, the score was a two- or three-goal difference.
The second half changed a lot as head coach John Webb called up a few people from the junior varsity squad and wanted to even out the playing time and give everyone the opportunity to play against Harvard-Westlake. The game ended up being about a seven-goal defeat, I think, and that move was fine and correct to let everyone get this opportunity to play in this game. Who knows had the game ended up being any different with the usual rotation, maybe closer but probably still a loss.
One player on that Harvard-Westlake team would be future Olympian Peter Hudnut and having to match up against him during this game was a daunting task and extremely tough.
As for the rest of the season, it was just steam-rolling through the competition for the rest of the year except for maybe a close game or two along the way.
One vivid memory that could have been just for me was at the state tournament as we wanted to take on Clear Lake in the championship game. That plan changed when Sterling ended up defeating Clear Lake in the semifinals, and I felt a little bummed we couldn’t take them on but getting to the state title for the second-straight year was a great feeling.
The championship game was actually one of the closer games all year by looking at the final score but it did not feel all that close from memory in our 7-2 victory. The second half featured a shutout and allowed to pull away. This 1999 win was the first state title for the Cypress Creek boys team.
This team earned a state title with a dominant run all year. The two losses can be tossed aside, in my opinion, to a degree with one defeat being short-handed and the other was against one of the best high school teams in the country and this team was fairly competitive in that loss.
So, does this team belong in the bracket? Who knows but this was an amazing team to be part of this team and it went on to have an amazing run en route to a satisfying state championship.