PaliHi Water Polo Defeats Non-League Rival Samohi

By Sue Pascoe

The Palisades High School boys water polo team soundly defeated Santa Monica High School in a non-league rivalry game, 16-10, on September 13.

Only a minute into the game, Dolphin sophomore Maximo Speiser scored the first goal (and he added a second goal in the third quarter).

Less than a minute later, junior Zeke Ramirez threw in the first of his four goals, one of which was an acrobatic twist of the arm off the head of his opponent. “I get the flashy moves,” he said after the game. “Over the years of playing [he’s played seven years], I’ve learned more finesse.”

Defender Theo Trask made it difficult for opponents to shoot.
Photo: Isabella Trask

Last year as a sophomore, Ramirez was a leading scorer for the Dolphins. He has played club [Westside Aquatics] with many of the players on the SamoHi team. “These are some of the top guys,” he said. “It was good to beat them.”

One of the toughest jobs in this game went to captain Sammy Speiser, a senior, who was called on to defend sophomore phenom Liam Bartlett, who scored nine of the Vikings’ 10 goals.

“I try to be a team player,” said Speiser, who still managed to score three goals despite his defensive responsibility. “If that means I stay off individual stats, that’s what I do.”

There were several fouls on both teams during the match.“ The game gets chippy at times,” Speiser said. “At Pali, we just try to keep our minds clear and play our game.” Goalie Michail Melnik, who had 9 saves, is one of only two seniors on this young team. Also scoring for the Dolphins were sophomore Grant Oliver with three, Luis Urias with two and Theo Trask who scored one. Pali head coach Adam Blakis, who played for Santa Monica High School and UC Riverside,had a good reason for missing this rivalry match—he was on his honeymoon.

Assistant coach Kirk Lazaruk was pleased with the outcome. “When we move, good things happen,” he said. “When we get stagnant, other teams get a chance.”

He was asked if this was about conditioning. “No, they’re in great shape,” Lazaruk said, noting it was all about how the team moved during the game—and about experience. “We have a lot of kids who play club together.”

He added, “We have a lot of talent. We have nine guys who can score.”

Ramirez said, “We have our sight set on state.” This year for the first time, the City Section champion and the runner-up will advance to the playoffs. “State would be really exciting.”

The participated in the Conejo Classic September 8-9 and struggled. They lost their first game against Westlake, a game that Lazaruk said they could have won. That shoved the team into a lower bracket. A loss to Malibu (13-9) gave them 10th place.

Pali’s first league game is at Banning on Sept. 25, and their first home game is against LACES at 3 p.m. on Oct. 2.

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