Water polo: Seasons end shy of goal
After the Stratford girls water polo team made it to the state title game last season only to finish second, Stratford water polo coach Michael Hoskovec knew it would be hard to duplicate that performance by either of his squads this year.
The girls team was hit hard by graduation each of the last two years, and the boys team was young and inexperienced.
Both teams entered the South Houston Region 3 tournament last weekend at Pearland Natatorium with high hopes, but neither team was able to play more than three games as they saw their seasons end at the region tournament.
"Both teams were young this year, but they were learning," Hoskovec said. "For the girls, we hoped they would advance to state, but we knew we needed help from the younger girls. The boys team only had two upperclassmen on the whole team. They had steady improvement, but the boys were looking to next year."
The Stratford girls team won its first game to open the region tournament, 6-3, over Alvin in the play-in game, but the Spartans couldn't keep it going falling 9-2 to Clear Creek in the first round and dropping a 12-6 decision to SBISD rival Memorial in the consolation quarterfinals to see their season end.
The boys team couldn't get out of the play-in game falling to Baytown Lee, 14-1.
Hoskovec said this season was a lot different than last season for the girls.
"For the girls who had been a part of the team last year, it was a different season because we had a lot of experience last year," Hoskovec said. "The girls have been helping to teach the younger girls and help them get better."
The Spartans' girls team was led by Kassy Parker and Casey Barton this year. The two were Second Team All State members last year, and have led the way this year with their goal scoring. Parker was named a Second Team All Region 3 member this year.
The Spartans' boys team was led by goalie Peter Lewin, Juan Hirsch and Kyle Rathgeb. Hoskovec said Lewin made some amazing saves this season, while Hirsch and Rathgeb were the leading scorers.
"We got burned a bit by not having a lot of experience, but we came together at the end and were playing our best at the end," Hoskovec said. "We needed something good to happen at regionals, and unfortunately, it didn't."
Also at the regional competition, the Memorial girls team saw its season end in the consolation semi-finals, while the boys team couldn't get past the play-in game.
The girls beat Friendswood, 5-1, in the play-in game, but lost to Clear Lake in the first round of bracket play to drop to the consolation round. After defeating Stratford in the consolation semi-finals, the Mustangs saw their season end with an 8-1 loss to see their season end.
The boys dropped a heartbreaker to Alvin to begin the tournament, 7-6.
Rachel Moody was honored as part of the All Region 3 Honorable Mention team, and Troy Hepper was named to the All Region 3 Second Team.