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SANTA ANA — Corona del Mar senior Noah Gerard knows from experience that the journey to playing varsity-level water polo in a powerhouse program in Orange County can take years of perseverance and being ready when the opportunity knocks. present.
He also experienced the rewards of the trip on Tuesday.
Gerard played well off the bench after an early foul on co-captain Charles Warmington to help the Sea Kings open their season with a 15-6 victory at Foothill.
Gerard scored two of the Sea Kings’ five second-half breakout goals, which took the score from competitive midway through the second period to lopsided at the end.
Corona del Mar (1-0) scored the first four goals of the third quarter on counterattacks, including one from Gerard that made it 11-3 and earned a timeout from Foothill (1-1 ).
Gerard entered the first quarter after Warmington committed two early fouls.
“(Warmington is) a big part of our team and when he had two at the start, me and my coaching staff, we looked at each one, we looked at the bench, and it was kind of an opportunity to some guys to step up,” Corona del Mar coach Kareem Captan said. “That’s what this team really has, (who) play for each other.”
Gerard earned his call-up on Tuesday after playing on a varsity junior team as freshmen and sophomores, and proving himself on the bench last season as a junior.
Corona del Mar, ranked fourth in Orange County, has nine seniors, including six rookies.
It is not an easy task to play for the Sea Kings, which are also loaded in the lower tiers. They won the Capistrano Valley frosh-soph tournament last week with a roster of ninth-graders, not those playing varsity and JV.
“I had to win it all,” Gerard said of coming to college. “I kind of took (playing at the junior college level) as a positive, like a chip on my shoulder, and I used it a lot, and it paid off last year when I finally got the call and I started gaining minutes.”
Gerard has company when it comes to being extremely motivated. Corona del Mar is packed with players looking to reach the Open Division playoffs for the first time and beat rival Newport Harbor, two-time Open Division champions.
“There’s a lot of damage on the shoulders,” Gerard said of his teammates. “Everyone knows that the CdM was on the map for a long time and is not so much anymore (in recent seasons). Our goal is just to get back on the map, and we’re going to do that by playing.
That hunger showed against No. 6 Foothill as the Sea Kings defense fueled the counterattack and allowed nine players to score.
Senior southpaw Luke Zimmerman led Corona del Mar with three goals while seniors Carson Simonson and Camren Simoncelli and sophomore Cooper Harlan each joined Gerard with two each.
The Sea Kings bench finished with six goals.
Senior goaltender Chase Campbell added six saves in his duel with Foothill junior Edric Scott (nine saves).
“They just brutalized us in the third quarter with their counterattack,” Foothill coach Dean Crow said. “We have to stay together. This is a lesson at the start of the season.
Senior William Griswold and junior Brody Metz each scored twice for the Knights. Griswold added two assists and four steals.
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