The Hornets freshman heavy water polo team got off to a sluggish start against the Monarchs, dropping their third consecutive game 17-8 on Friday afternoon at home.
The Monarchs featured a physically imposing 2-meter player, sophomore Arman Momdzhyan, who finished with 6 goals and caused headaches for the Hornets all game long. The 6-foot-6-inch Momdzhyan came into the contest averaging 5 goals-per-game, which leads the Western State Conference.
“We knew coming in that [L.A. Valley] had guys that were basically Division-IV players and that is always difficult because you are going to have guys manhandle the younger kids on our team who haven’t played at this level yet,” said Rhett Price, Hornets head coach.
The Monarchs played a very physical style of polo. Price voiced his concerns to the referee early on about Momdzhyan and a couple others throwing their heads back into Hornets defenders to create space for their shots.
“I’m not saying that this game, by any means, was taken away by the referee, but I was concerned for injuries to my players simply because [the referees] were letting their heads go back into our faces,” Price said.
The Monarchs jumped on the board early and really never looked back. Sophomore Hakop Kaplanyan lobbed two goals into the net on their first two possessions, putting the Monarchs up 2-0 less than 50 seconds into the game.
Hornets goalie Frank Cope was beaten by the lob-shot often throughout the game. The Monarchs scored an unusually high 10 shots that way.
“[Cope] was over extending himself out of the cage too much, that is probably the most any team has ever scored on us with lobs,” Price said.
The Hornets managed to put just one goal in the back of the net before the end of the first quarter and trailed by three.
The Monarchs extended their lead to 14-5 by the end of the third quarter.
The lone bright spot for the Hornets was their fourth quarter play, which saw them play the talented and more experienced Monarchs even for 8 minutes, scoring 3 goals a piece.
Leading the way for the Hornets offensively was freshman Gunnar Abato, who finished with 5 goals scored.
With six players banged up playing through injuries, the Hornets (8-8, 0-2) will look to take full advantage of their two weeks off before their next contest, the Santa Monica Mini Tournament, Oct. 16-17.