Piedmont High School’s boys water polo team advanced to the North Coast Section championship game for the first time in school history on Nov. 9, defeating host and No. 1 seed Marin Academy, 13-9.
The Highlanders will face fellow West Alameda County Conference school Alameda in the finals on Nov. 11 at Acalanes. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Piedmont had been eliminated by Marin Academy each of the past two seasons.
“I think the difference was our senior leadership and our intensity right out of the gate,” Highlanders coach John Savage said. “We came out and played aggressive defense and team defense and that led to opportunities on the offensive end.”
Piedmont scored the first goal of the game when Declan Linnane found the net just 51 seconds in. The Highlanders led 3-2 when Marin Academy’s Schuyler Rewick scored at 3:07 to go in the first. Piedmont then scored the next six goals to take control of the match.
Savage said defense was the key for the Highlanders. The Wildcats had two top players in Rewick and Tucker Byrne.
“We knew that going in because we had film on them,” Savage said. “Essentially it was anybody but them. And they still managed to get shots. Byrne scored four goals. But it’s not seven goals, it’s four.
“We guarded them very tightly on the perimeter and any time they would come inside we would double-team them and give up a shot on the perimeter by somebody else.”
The offense was led by four goals from Peter Krumins. Linnane had three and George Stein had two. Finn Burke, Elles Krieckhaus, Daniel Banin, and Ori Aloush each had one.
“We were pretty balanced,” Savage said.
Now, two teams very familiar with each other will meet in the final. Piedmont defeated Alamdea back on Oct. 12, 10-9 in overtime.
“The key to beating Alameda is playing really good team defense,” Savage said. “They have the league MVP Zach Dortch, who’s the son of the coach (Marshall Dortch). He’s really skilled and talented. Getting hands up to block. Possession. Not making silly turnovers and holding onto the ball.”
One way or another, it’s a win for Alameda County water polo. Since NCS playoffs were established in 1995, every single champion has come from either Marin or Contra Costa county.
“For it to be an all-WACC final is awesome,” Savage said. “The boys are looking forward to it.”