Varsity Water Polo celebrates historic win against Pingry


Jillian Lee, Staff Writer

Varsity Water Polo had a monumental win this Wednesday against Pingry School, defeating them for the first time in over a decade, after losing 14-20 against Staples High School two days before. 

The Sea Lions beat Pingry 15-14 with a shot made by team captain Walker McCarthy (12) in the last seconds of the final quarter. The two teams were nearly tied throughout the game, but McCarthy’s winning buzzer-beater secured the Lions’ win. 

In the 23 years that Varsity Water Polo Coach Michael Duffy has coached against Pingry, HM only has a few wins against them, Duffy said. This made Wednesday’s win all the more impressive, McCarthy said. 

Some notable moments throughout the game included eight goals made by Max Chasin (11). One of Chasin’s best goals was when he made a swift lob shot – a deliberately slow hanging shot that passes in an arc over the goalie’s head and into the corner of the goal – from the far left of the pool during the third quarter, McCarthy said. 

Going into Wednesday’s game, the team knew that Pingry had very fast swimmers, so the goal was to identify the strongest swimmers on Pingry’s team and stop them from making easy goals or counter-attacks, where there is a turnover and the defense switches to offense before the original offense can react, Duffy said. 

The team focused specifically on countering drills during practice in preparation for this week’s games which was helpful when playing against Pingry, who is known for having fast swimmers, Noah Castillo (9) said. “They are a very fast team and we were able to minimize the number of counterattacks they got in during the game.” 

Since the team was playing strong teams, it was crucial for them to be extremely cognizant of what was happening in the pool, McCarthy said. “We knew that we [were going] into a game where they might be faster than us and we could compensate by being more aware, thinking ahead, and trying to react faster than they did.” 

Both Staples and Pingry are outside the Ivy Preparatory League (IPL). “We’re playing the top teams in the tri-state area. Staples is one of the best teams in Connecticut and Pingry is one of the best in Jersey,” Duffy said. 

Duffy anticipated that these games would be difficult since both Staples and Pingry have strong teams compared to those in the IPL, Jared Contant (11) said. 

The IPL only has four water polo teams and HM is currently standing in first with a total of five wins and no losses in their league. “I can honestly say that right now we’re the best team in New York,” Duffy said. 

The benefit of playing against strong teams is that they provide the water polo team an opportunity to identify weaknesses, Duffy said. For example, the team has learned that in order to keep up with the fast pace at which Staples and Pingry play, they must make decisions faster, he said. 

Monday was the introduction into one of the hardest weeks of the season based on the caliber of their opponents’ programs, McCarthy said. The team was able to take what they learned from the game against Staples and apply it to the game against Pingry, he said. 

Two of the struggles during the Staples game were the team’s awareness and communication, Castillo said. “A lot of the time we would have an open man and just didn’t see them.” Staples was able to take advantage of this weakness by stealing the ball without the team realizing, he said. 

Pingry switches positions a lot so communicating about who you are defending or being guarded by was key during the game, Castillo said. In comparison to Monday, the team’s communication was significantly better during Wednesday’s game, which helped them win, he said. “Across the team in general we were able to communicate pretty effectively and had good team chemistry,” McCarthy said. 

Next Monday, the team is looking forward to their last IPL game against Trinity. The game is a great opportunity for seniors like McCarthy to see how the team will fare next season, he said. “I’m excited to see younger players, particularly sophomores and juniors who haven’t necessarily played as much in these pretty tight close games, really step up on Monday.”