IRVINE — This One Way Water Polo team keeps on rolling.
Playing in the Junior Olympics for the first time, the 12-and-under boys team defeated Santa Monica Westside 8-7 Monday in the quarterfinals at Woodbridge High School in Irvine.
That makes it five straight for the Santa Maria team.
One Way will go for its sixth win in a row Tuesday at 11 a.m. in the Silver Division semifinals. The opponent had not been determined at press time.
“We’ll have two games Tuesday,” said One Way head coach Miles Whitfield during a telephone interview Monday evening. “After the semis, we’ll play in either the championship game or the third place game later in the afternoon. I'm really happy with the way the boys have played this entire tournament. For us to be playing this well in our first-ever Junior Olympics makes me very proud of this team.”
In Monday’s game, One Way went out to an early 3-0 but it didn’t hold up.
“We gradually let them back into it and Santa Monica Westside actually had a 7-6 lead going into the fourth quarter,” said Whitfield. “But we tied it up with 2:30 left in the game and scored the game-winner with 1:30 left and our defense held them off the rest of the way. It was a good finish for us.”
It was also the closest game of the five One Way has played so far.
“Aidan Fitzpatrick has nine saves and a couple steals that were really big,” said Whitfield. “It’s not too often that a 12-and-under goalie has nine saves.”
Cahill Tucker was One Way’s leading scorer with four goals.
“We also got a really good game from Lucas Anderson. He only had one goal but he drew a lot of exclusions. Lucas played a really great game for us.”
Sunday’s games were a lot less stressful for Whitfield and his players.
One Way defeated Menlo Park 19-4 and Redlands Renegades 11-6.
In the Menlo Park game, all 11 field players scored at least one goal.
“It was a great team win. Everyone contributed,” said Whitfield. “It was good to see some different guys contributing in this game and they all played hard. Michael Brown and Kyle Timmer each scored their first goal of the tournament.
“And Aiden had another great day in goal. He seen a lot of action playing every game for us. But it’s not just Aiden. Defense is a team effort and all our of defenders have been playing excellent water polo. If you keep the other team to low scores, you give yourself a great chance to win.”
The game against the Redlands Renegades has a closer score but the same result — another big win for One Way.
“It was a hard fought win against a very solid team. We got them in foul trouble early and Lucas Anderson was drawing exclusion after exclusion at 2-meters. Zachary Whitfield led the team in scoring with 6 goals in this game,” said Whitfield. “This game was closer than the final score shows. They were a tough team and the score was close most of the game. We were able to pull away late. Morrison Steffora was big on defense for us. He’s shown a lot of improvement with his swimming in the tournament. He’s really been a stalwart on defense.”
One Way won its tournament openers Saturday — beating Lamorinda, from Contra Costa County, 16-4 in its first game. The team then got past United, an Orange County team, 13-8 in its second game.
Now, everything comes down to Tuesday.
“The boys are pretty pumped about it,” said Whitfield. “They can’t wait to get back into the pool.”
Tuesday's results were not available at press time.