PASO ROBLES — Fans, friends, and parents all showed up at the Paso Robles Municipal Pool Tuesday for the final home game of the season for the Paso Robles Bearcats boys water polo Team. It was an emotional day for Head Coach Duane McRoy who got misty eyed before the game as he spoke to parents about each of the seniors he had the pleasure of coaching this season.
The Bearcats will graduate four seniors from the team this year: Nick Marcove, Nick Matteson, John Nash and Zack Tucker, the latter two being co-captains and the unquestioned leaders of the team. Tucker is a prolific scorer for the Bearcats who broke the single season scoring record a year ago as a junior and is currently on track to break the school's career scoring record if he continues his excellent play. Nash acts as the team's emotional, selfless leader, often times playing out of position and doing anything it takes to help the Bearcats achieve victory.
“Every team needs this kind of player on their team… he never complained about doing the dirty work,” McRoy said.
The Bearcats have a very young team this year, many players having only played a single year or are still learning the game in general. Nash and Tucker have spent as much time coaching their peers this season as they have working on their own craft and the appreciation did not go unnoticed.
“Their role became more than players and scoring goals, they were our teachers in the water,” McRoy said. “Their hearts were in putting off just their own stats and all that, and dedicating their hearts to this team… The impacts that they have made in the water, on campus, traveling… they have been tremendous mentors.”
Once the tears dried and the boys handed their flowers to their parents, it was time to play some water polo. The Bearcats welcomed in the Eagles of Arroyo Grande for their senior night, a traditionally talented and deep team that regularly makes runs in the CIF playoffs.
The game started off perfectly for the Bearcats with Zack Tucker scoring first, giving Paso Robles the quick 1-0 lead. A few possession later Tucker again broke free of the defense and attempted a lob shot that almost floated over the AG goalie. The Eagles quickly netted two goals to retake the lead before Nash got in on the action and scored his first goal of the afternoon, tying the game at two apiece. The Bearcats played the Eagles close all afternoon — the score was tied 3-3 at the end of the first period and Paso trailed only 4-7 at the half.
It was obvious that the Eagles knew who the Bearcats best offensive weapon was — Tucker routinely faced double and the occasional triple team, but that didn't stop him from scoring five goals over the duration of the game. On this day however, Tucker was outscored by his captain counterpart who fired six goals of his own past the AG goalie. In the end AG’s depth proved to be too much for the Bearcats. They began to pull away in the third period and won the game 18-12, but not before the seniors could put on one final show for their home fans. Even though the Bearcats lost the game, they outscored the Eagles 6-4 in the final period, all of the goals coming from the seniors.
The loss drops the Bearcats to 9-8 overall and 2-2 in league. Paso will continue its league play next Tuesday when they face the Greyhounds in Atascadero for a big rivalry game.