The Palisades High School boys water polo team defeated Granada Hills, 10-4, to win its fifth straight City Section title on November 12.
Leading up to the finals, the top-seeded Dolphins, under head coach Adam Blakis, doused team after team. In the first round they routed Robert F. Kennedy Community High School 24-2; in the quarterfinals they beat Taft 17-1 and in the semi’s they defeated Eagle Rock, 18-6.
At halftime of the championship game, PaliHi found itself in an unusual place–ahead by only one point, 3-2, with goals by seniors Isai Elias (captain), Quinn Godfredsen and Lucas Silva. At that point, the game could have gone either way.
Senior Gabby Feizbakhsh later said, “In the first half I didn’t have any goals. Granada kind of got into our heads. The second half we got motivated. It was time to get ahead to realize our hopes and dreams.” He raised his game by scoring two goals.
Captain Elias said, “We weren’t nervous [about the championship]; we just had to compose ourselves and get the win.”
And they did. In the third quarter, Oliver Grant scored two goals and Orson Spence and Silva each added a goal as the Dolphins took a 7-3 lead.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Pali’s senior goalkeeper, Brandon Epp, made a great save to keep the ball on the offensive side of the pool, keeping momentum on Pali’s side.
Feizbakhsh then scored the team’s eighth and ninth goals, Epp made another great save (he had 11 in the game) and Elias closed out the scoring.
After the Dolphins received their medals and the championship trophy, Blakis was happy to take the traditional jump into the pool with his players.
“This was a great win,” Blakis said. When asked about the low scoring in the first half and if he was worried, he answered: “We were struggling with our offense. Our passes were sloppy, but our defense held us. Then we put the pedal to the medal and started scoring.”
He had nothing but praise for the boys and their defensive skills. “I wasn’t worried, I knew our defense would do it for
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Silva said. “This year’s seniors couldn’t have asked for a better team to play with. We all played our hearts out.”
Feizbakhsh, who has been playing water polo since second grade, said: “This was the culmination of all that work. It was like a last hurrah.”
(Editor’s Note: Corrections were made to errors that incorrectly identified members of the team. Palisades News apologizes for this error.)