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Pacific Storm goes three for three against Fraser Valley

Water Polo fans in the Vancouver area were treated to a triple header Saturday when Fraser Valley made the trip to Coquitlam to face their rivals Pacific Storm. The matches served as the first meetings of the year between the BC clubs’ 19U Men’s, 19U Women’s and 16U Boys’ squads. Pacific Storm was able to claim early season bragging rights after sweeping all three games.

The first matchup of the evening pitted the clubs’ 16U Boys’ squads against each other. The game was Fraser Valley’s first of the NCL campaign while Storm sat at 1-0-0 after knocking off Saanich on Vancouver Island to begin their season. Neither Pacific Storm nor Fraser Valley was able to qualify for the National Finals last season after both of their playoff campaigns were put to an end by the eventual National Champions from Saskatchewan. The 2015-2016 season serves as an opportunity for both clubs to take the next step forward, but In order to do so, both clubs will have to overcome the loss of key players who aged out of the 16U category. Pacific Storm must go without Reuel D’Souza and his league leading 100 goals from last year while Fraser Valley lost their four highest goal scorers. That’s not to say both clubs aren’t bringing back their share of dangerous players. Storm could easily have the league’s leading goal scorer again as Luka Maletic is back and he finished only 7 goals back of D’Souza last season. Joining Maletic for another 16U campaign is Sando Miletic, who found the back of the net over 50 times in 2014-2015. For Fraser Valley, Garrett Davis could be primed for a big season after scoring 40 one year ago.

On to the game. It’s never easy to play your first game of the year against a really strong opponent and the opening quarter and a half was evidence of that idea for Fraser Valley. Storm jumped on Valley from the opening swim ball and after 5 minutes of play it was 4-0 for the home side. Valley would start to find their legs after that and their defense would tighten up, but they just could not get a ball past Storm keeper Antonio Maric. Midway through the 2nd Valley was still being shutout, but a late surge from the visitors got the score to 6-3 at the half. It appeared the momentum would continue into the 3rd quarter as an early goal from Garrett Davis pulled Valley within 2 but that was as close as Fraser Valley would get. Sandro Miletic was about to put his stamp on the game. Miletic would score 5 of his team’s next 8 goals, including four in a row, to put the game on ice and move Storm to 2-0-0 on the season. Both teams will be back in action again soon as the 16U Surrey Conference Weekend gets underway on Thursday.

The 2nd game of the evening was the match-up between the 19U Women’s squads. The game was expected to be the closest of the night and it did not disappoint. Both B.C. clubs had strong efforts at the opening 19U conference weekend of the year in Regina, going 7-1 collectively. The only loss was a one goal game Fraser Valley dropped to Saskatchewan after a furious comeback. With both teams looking certain to be in contention for the two National Finals berths available in the Western Conference, the fans were excited to see just how the sides stacked up against one another. The answer was, very close. A good stat that illustrates that point is that neither team would score more than two consecutive goals in the entire contest.

Storm jumped out to the early lead with two quick goals in the first. The teams traded goals all the way through the 2nd until two consecutive goals by Devyani Mclaren made the score 6-5 heading into the half. Fraser Valley would spend the entire 2nd half trying to get over the hump but being denied at every turn thanks to timely goal scoring from Victoria Orlova, Tamara Curcija, and Ariana Momen. Those three combined for 11 of Storm’s 12 goals. Finally, with just over two minutes to play, Emily Aikema was able to tie the score for Fraser Valley with her 4th of the game. Neither team could find the back of the net over the next few frantic possessions; but with 15 seconds to play, the ball found its way to Orlova, and she fired it home to give Storm the 12-11 victory.

The nightcap would be the least dramatic of the three affairs as the Storm 19U Men were simply too strong this evening. It can be argued that Storm is the deepest team in the 19U Men’s NCL and that depth of roster was on display during their 26-12 victory. 11 players scored for Pacific Storm and 7 of those players had multi-goal efforts.

It was an excited night of water polo and bodes well for the many remaining NCL games between the two clubs.

This week in the NCL

This week is one of the biggest weeks in the NCL calendar as 32 16U boys and girls games in Surrey B.C. will be played simultaneously with 25 19U men’s and women’s games in Markham ON. After this weekend, every 16U and 19U NCL team will have played their opening NCL games of the season and the race to the National Finals will have begun in earnest. Games kick off in Surrey at the Surrey Sport and Leisure complex at 6:20pm on Thursday and in Markham at the Markham Pan Am Centre at 2:00pm on Friday.

Please see the NCL schedule for exact times and locations of all game this week.



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