Sports: Boys Wopo Experiences Heartbreaking Loss to Bellarmine in Championship Match of CCS
M-A faced Bellarmine this Saturday afternoon in the championship match of the Central Coast Section playoffs with an opportunity to rob Bellarmine of another CCS win, as they were the champions last year. After a nail-biting, back and forth match, Bellarmine prevailed with 9 goals to the Bears’ 8, and won the tournament for the second year in a row.
The Bears and the Bells had faced off twice earlier in the season. The first non-tournament game of the season, the Bears took Bellarmine into OT before experiencing a narrow defeat, ending with 12 goals to Bellarmine’s 14. The next time the two teams met, Bellarmine dominated M-A with a 7-goal win in the St. Francis Invitational with a final score of 15-8, Bells.
Coming off of an outstanding victory over #2 seed, St. Francis, in the semifinals, the Bears squared off to finally defeat #1 seed, Bellarmine, and win the tournament for the first time in 5 years as underdogs.
The Bells came out strong, winning the first possession of the game and quickly capitalizing on their first opportunity, allowing them a quick lead just 20 seconds into the game. After a wasted advantage play for each team, Bellarmine converted again, pulling ahead by 2 just 3 minutes in.
The Bears answered back just 20 seconds later with a goal from senior Zach Deal. Bellarmine returned with their third goal of the game, and Deal answered back once again, ending the first quarter, 3-2, Bellarmine.
Both teams continued with strong offensive play into the 2nd quarter with 3 goals from Bellarmine, and 4 from M-A to tie up the game going into half, 6-6. Senior Morgan Olson-Fabbro contributed 3 of the Bears 4 goals of the quarter, with one from senior Zach Cogan, as well.
Bellarmine scored 2 more goals in the third quarter, unreturned by the Bears, putting M-A behind by 2 entering into the 4th and final quarter of the championship match.
With aggressive defense throughout the game, this 2-goal lead was the largest lead that the Bears ever allowed the Bells during the game. M-A shutout Bellarmine on 5 of their advantage plays, a key contribution in limiting the Bells’.
Fabbro quickly closed the gap with 2 goals for the Bears in the first 4 minutes of the 4th period, tying the score, 8-8. Bellarmine pulled ahead once again in the final 2 minutes of the game and leaving the Bears with one possession left to tie the game and bring it into OT.
The Bears failed to convert their last opportunity, ending the game in the Bells’ favor, 9-8.
The conclusion of this championship match signified the end of the water polo season. Although the Bears fell to Bellarmine, and therefore were not able to claim the championship, they still ended the tournament 2nd, above their seed as the #3 team in CCS.
The Bears closed out their season with an impressive showing in the championship match, regardless of the outcome. Seniors Harrison Holland-McCowan, Zach Deal, Zach Cogan, Morgan Olson-Fabbro, Jason Mouchawar, and Connor Arrington all hit the pool in this final game, and finished out their water polo career at M-A extremely well.