Serra's Sean Kim winds up for a shot during the Padres' 13-3 loss to Bellarmine Wednesday night in the WCAL opener for both teams.
Serra water polo coach Bob Greene was under no illusions heading into the Padres’ West Catholic Athletic League opener against Bellarmine Wednesday evening in San Mateo.
The Bells have won the last two Central Coast Section championships and 24 CCS titles. The Padres, on the other hand, were replacing a dozen seniors who graduated in the spring.
Add it all up and it resulted in a 13-3 Bellarmine win.
“[Bellarmine is] in midseason form and they’re playing real well,” Greene said. “We try to run and swim hard, but [the Bells are] fast so they can stop our counter (attack). They were shutting down our drives. They can just stop it.”
All that being said, Greene wasn’t particularly upset with the way his team played. After a timid start to the game, Serra (0-1 WCAL, 3-3 overall) started pushing back in the second period and carried it through to the end. The Padres finished with 15 steals and goaltender Jeremy Hitchcock finished with eight saves — including blocking a 5-meter penalty shot in the fourth period.
“Our defense is looking real good,” Greene said.
The Serra offense, which may be effective against lesser teams, was really no match for Bellarmine, although the Padres did themselves no favors by having a number of shot attempts sail wide or high of the goal cage. In the first half, the Padres attempted 15 shots — only seven of which were on frame.
“We got shots, but we didn’t hit the cage,” Greene said. “ That was discouraging, but it was nice to see those shots taken.”
When the Padres did manage to direct a shot on goal, the Bells goaltender was there to deny them, who finished with 12 saves.
“Those were quality shots, but their goalie is really good,” Greene said.
Things started well for the Padres as they scored the first goal of the game. Sean Kim found Tyler Breen in the hole set and the junior converted less than two minutes into the match to give Serra a 1-0 lead.
It was shortlived, however. About 30 seconds later, Bellarmine tied the score on the first of Riley Preston’s four goals. It was the beginning of three unanswered goals by the Bells who led 3-1 after the first period.
Bellarmine scored the first three goals of the second period and were in command 6-1. Serra’s Joe Kmak snuck a shot past the Bellarmine goaltender late in the period and the Padres trailed 6-2 at halftime.
Kmak found the back of the net again in the third period, pouncing on a rebound and slamming it home off an initial shot from Mathew Olujic, but that would be the Padres’ only goal of the second half.
Bellarmine, meanwhile, added seven more goals over the final two periods — including a trio in garbage time.
With a team predominantly comprised of juniors in their first year playing varsity, Greene knows it’s going to take some time for his team to get comfortable.
“You really do have to coach more of basic varsity fundamentals,” Greene said. “It really is a lot faster at the varsity level.”
Greene also knows, however, that despite the score, his team did play well against a CCS powerhouse.
“If you can do some good things against [Bellarmine], you’re in good shape,” Greene said. “I know it was 13-3, but overall, we hung in there.
“We’re only going to get better.”
In other WCAL action, Sacred Heart Prep blasted Valley Christian, 18-1.
The Gators jumped out a 7-0 lead in the first period and never looked back. Harrison Enright paced the SHP offense with five goals.
In Peninsula Athletic League play, Menlo School cruised past Aragon, 19-3. The Knights got five goals Chris Xi and four from Andreas Katsis.
It was SHP’s first match of the season.
Aragon could have added more if not for the play of the Menlo goaltenders. Starter Spencer Witte had seven saves in the first half and John Wilson finished with 10 in the second half.
Menlo improved to 2-0 in PAL Bay Division play and 4-0 overall.
The Menlo-Atherton boys’ team destroyed Sequoia 27-8. The Bears scored 10 in the second period alone and led 17-6 at halftime.
The Menlo-Atherton girls also had an easy time with Sequoia, winning 11-3.