Sunny Hills boys water polo secures first Freeway League win in 10-4 victory over Buena Park

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Sunny Hills goalie junior Josh Beutter rises out of the water to block a shot by a Buena Park attacker during an Oct. 2 home game in which the Lancers won, 10-4. Photo by Accolade photographer Paul Yasutake

Kristima Aryal

Securing its first win over a Freeway League opponent, the Sunny Hills boys water polo team shut down Buena Park High School in a home game Oct. 2 in a 10-4 victory.

“My expectations going into this game were what my expectations always are, to play our very best,” head coach Keith Nighswonger said. “Several players played their best game of their season.”

Although the Lancers (4-10) had been facing a losing streak, they went into this game with a positive mindset and persistent attitude.

“The games we lost we saw more as a way of improving than as a way of bringing us down.” utility player senior Christian Aguirre said. “ We saw our mistakes, learned from them and kept going.”

The Lancers took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, ending with Aguirre rebounding a shot that had ricocheted off the corner post of the goal in a player exclusion penalty.

“After getting the first three goals of the game, you could see the confidence rise in players and the clouds lift,” Nighswonger said. “Without this lead, I don’t know what might have happened.”

The second quarter saw closer action as the Lancers ended the first half of the game 4-3 with the last shot coming off from utility player Jonathan Sullavero in the last two seconds of the clock.

“The second quarter was a good test for us,” Nighswonger said. “But, after they outscored us 3-1 that quarter, I asked my players, ‘How are we going to respond to this.’”

In the third quarter, Sunny Hills struggled to take possession of the ball and score. However, the Lancers ramped up their defense and worked together more effectively on offense, adding two more goals to end the quarter at 6-3.

By the final quarter, the Lancers’ defense only allowed the Coyotes to score one more time while their offense added four more points.

Utility player senior Levi Lawrence scored twice, first with 5:00 left on the clock and the second coming in at 2:54.

The final shot of the game was taken by utility player senior Cole Seibel with 1:29 left in the game.

“We knew we needed to score and win to change the momentum of the game,” Seibel said.

Junior goalie Josh Beutter, who made some crucial saves, said he was proud of his teammates performance and looked forward to how his team will play in their next game against La Habra High School at Troy High School.

“I was ecstatic with how my team mates performed during the game,” Beutter said. “It was a result of us working hard as a team, instead of individually.”

As of now, the Lancers are tied for third place with the Coyotes in the Freeway League with an Oct. 9 matchup against La Habra (3-3) at Troy High School’s pool at 5 p.m.

Nighswonger looks forward to increasing his players’ confidence and growing trust between teammates for future league games.

“This game proved that everybody can trust their teammates,” he said. “We should be able to build on that the rest of the way.”