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2021-22 All-Napa County Boys Water Polo

2021-22 All-Napa County Boys Water Polo: Vintage's Davis, Justin's Kleis lead area in pool

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Mason Davis

Vintage High senior Mason Davis is tangled up by a submerged Justin-Siena defender on Sept. 22, 2021.

Only one of this year’s 18 honorees has been an All-County nominee for three years, Justin-Siena senior Casey Kleis.

Vintage junior Kaliq Khan would probably have his third All-County spot this year had his former school, Napa High, had enough personnel to field a team in his sophomore year.

Vintage, after having its streak of six straight league titles halted by Cardinal Newman in 2019, brought back the crown with an undefeated Vine Valley Athletic League record this season.

The Crushers were led by senior Mason Davis, their only returning All-County selection, with Vintage girls water polo alumnus Addie Clem enjoying a successful first season as their head coach.

Here are this year's All-County selections, in alphabetical order:

Angelo Baracco, Napa High senior

The team captain provided much-needed leadership as a four-year water polo player, both in and out of the pool.

“Angelo has always been a stand-up young man,” head coach Ashiq Khan said. “His desire for excellence and accountability helped bring together our team. Leading by example, Angelo made it was easy for our underclassmen to see the results of dedication and determination. He always put forth the effort in taking the reps and when it got to game time, Angelo was able to execute.

"Every team needs an Angelo for both his serious side and his confidence, served with a smile. We are sure that Angelo will be arm in arm with success as he moves on to UC Santa Cruz.”

Baracco provided the Grizzlies with tight defense and added to the dynamic side of the offense.

“I am very thankful to have spent my last water polo season with such a great team,” Baracco said. “I will continue to use the leadership and teamwork skills I have learned throughout my life.”

Gino Bartalotti, Justin-Siena senior

The team captain made the All-Vine Valley Athletic League Second Team for his set defense.

“A true leader by example,” head coach John Derr said. “A three-year starter with a wicked left-handed shot.”

Bartalotti, who also played club water polo for four years and was a 2018 medalist in the Junior Olympics, is moving on to San Diego State University.

“Water polo has been a part of my life since elementary school,” he said. “Although our Justin-Siena team changed every year, the one constant was how much I love the sport and love my teammates who played it with me. Although it was challenging to be a leader of a team, it was gratifying to see the younger players get into the game and become excited about water polo.”

Sawyer Bristow, Vintage junior

The All-Vine Valley Athletic League Second Teamer helped the Crushers win the league crown as a utility player. He guided his team with 13 goals, 9 assists, 32 steals and 4 drawn exclusions.

Thomas Crist, Justin-Siena senior

A member of the All-Vine Valley Athletic League First Team, he shined at several positions.

“Our most consistent player all year,” head coach John Derr said. “He also played more minutes a game than anyone else and never gave up, even when we were down.”

Crist, who also excelled for the Braves in lacrosse, will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“I fell in love with water polo when I was an incoming freshman, having never played the sport before,” Crist said. “We had a strong senior class my freshman year and I was bumped up to varsity to play and learn from those strong players. It was awesome to return to water polo this past fall after missing my junior year season due to COVID.”

Gabe Cueva, American Canyon junior

He finished with 15 goals, 13 assists and 14 steals for the Wolves.

“Gabe has excellent instincts on both defense and offense,” said head coach Sarah Wolfe. “He understands the field and led the team in field blocks and steals.”

Mason Davis, Vintage senior

The team captain and Vine Valley Athletic League Most Valuable Player scored 93 goals with a 59% shooting average. He also had 19 assists, allowing himself to touch 45% of Vintage's goals this season. His defense was impressive, as well, as he had 59 steals and 27 drawn exclusions.

“Mason's main position is center, allowing him to create opportunities for his team’s advancement directly in front of the goal,” said head coach Addie Clem. “He couldn't finish out his senior season without breaking the school record of most goals scored in a game (10) against Ukiah in our league playoffs.”

Andrew Dillon, Napa High sophomore

The Grizzlies’ assists leader was one of the fastest up the pool, speed he used to qualify this spring for the North Coast Section Swim Championships in the 100 freestyle.

“A real thoroughbred, Andrew was asked to assume several roles this year,” head coach Ashiq Khan said. “He provided that perfect fit for our strong guys in the middle by being able to break away and lead the counterattack. Not too many players can lead the counter and be the first one back on defense, but Andrew is that guy. He didn’t need much rest, and was always a good spark for the team. We were lucky to be in a position to allow him to do his own thing, which really fit, but to also have him slow it up from time to time. Hopefully, next year Andrew will have us all in better shape to keep up with him.”

Rylie Dombrowski, Justin-Siena senior

In his third season as the Braves’ starting goalkeeper, he made the All-Vine Valley Athletic League First Team.

“I believe he was the most improved player at their position his senior year,” said head coach John Derr. “He literally kept us in many games this year with his outstanding, aggressive shot blocking.”

Dombrowski will be attending the University of Utah.

“I was introduced to water polo in freshman year at Justin-Siena and I knew I wanted to play,” he recalled. “But I wasn’t the fastest swimmer, so I opted to play goalie and really enjoyed every second of it. It was a long and rigorous journey, but it has really shaped me into a better person and I made a lot of friends along the way.”

Will Flint, Vintage senior

The team captain and Vine Valley Athletic League First Team selection was a key player in the league champions’ strong defense. As a center-defender, his role was to create defensive opportunities for his team to gain advantage of the ball. Flint tallied 12 goals, 16 assists, 30 steals, 5 drawn exclusions, and an impressive 46% shooting average.

Kaliq Khan, Vintage junior

The All-Vine Valley Athletic League First Team choice had an impressive first season as a Crusher after starting for Napa High in 2019 and spring 2021. With a 55% shooting average, he scored 58 goals and had 33 assists, 52 steals and 28 drawn exclusions for the league champions.

“Kaliq is a utility player, which allots him the skills to play in any position in the field,” head coach Addie Clem said.

Casey Kleis, Justin-Siena senior

The only players making his third All-County appearance on this year’s team, the captain made the All-Vine Valley Athletic League Second Team.

“One of our senior captains and most vocal leader,” head coach John Derr said. “He played all the positions – from hole set, to hole guard, to driver – and played all of them well.”

Kleis is headed to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“I have played water polo since I was in sixth grade and I have loved every second of it,” he said. “I have really enjoyed watching not only my team grow throughout my years at Justin-Siena, but also the water polo community in Napa.”

Matthew Lloyd, Vintage junior

The Vine Valley Athletic League’s Goalkeeper of the Year was a large key to the league champions’ success this season. With 141 saves and only 65 goals against, he finished the season with a save percentage of 68.4%. Lloyd also racked up 29 assists, 33 steals and a rare goalie assist. He also broke the school record for most saves in a single game, with 19 against Amador Valley in a 15-8 loss to Amador Valley in the North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs.

Nick Margolati, American Canyon junior

He was another explosive scorer for the Wolves, amassing 36 goals, 20 assists and 24 steals.

“Nicks love of the game shines through his playing,” head coach Sarah Wolfe said. “My favorite memory of Nick is how well he played against Ukiah (in a 20-11 loss). He did not let up and was our leading scorer that game.”

Carson McClintick, Vintage senior

The team captain and All-Vine Valley Athletic League Second Team honoree helped guide Vintage to the league title by taking on the lead role of sprinter. The sprinter is the first person to receive the ball in each quarter of the game, determining which team holds possession first.

“Carson's role is crucial, as it sets the tone for each game,” head coach Addie Clem said.

McClintick earned 14 goals, 16 assists, 29 steals and 4 drawn exclusions in the field. He also played goalkeeper in one game and earned 7 saves while allowing just 5 goals, and had an assist and 2 steals.

Gabriel “Titi” Orozco, Napa High junior

The goalkeeper really made a name for himself this season, switching to the cage after older brother Isaiah graduated and vacated the position.

“Titi gobbled up loose balls that he knocked down,” said head coach Ashiq Khan. “He was the difference for us in close games with tremendous blocks. A counterattack is only as effective as how quickly you can get the ball up the pool, and Titi had several laser-beam passes that were right on target. His ability to articulate what is needed had him looking like a maestro as he directed the defense.”

With his glass-is-half-full attitude, the Grizzlies will lean on Orozco for leadership and continued blocking prowess in the upcoming season.

“I feel like I found my place when I started playing goalie this year,” he said, “and I believe it helped to enhance our team chemistry and morale.”

Elijah Santiago, American Canyon senior

He racked up a team-high 44 goals as well as 21 assists and 27 steals for the Wolves.

“Eli is a leader in and out of the pool,” head coach Sarah Wolfe said. “He has a positive attitude and his teammates really look up to him. He takes charge on both offense and defense.”

Nathan Schwarze, Napa High senior

The team captain culminated his four year-water polo career with the Grizzlies as an integral part of the team.

“Nathan was one of our strongest players and commanded a lot of attention in the middle of the pool and was our go-to guy for penalty shots,” said head coach Ashiq Khan. “Nathan’s great outside shot and strength, combined with his passing, really opened things up for us. He helped draw the defense and then could give the ball to one of our drivers. He also provided lots of laughs for the team over the years, Nathan always had a positive outlook and attitude.”

Cameron Taylor, Napa High junior

He was the Grizzlies Most Outstanding Player, leading the team in goals while racking numerous assists, steals and drawn exclusions.

“Cameron is that all-around player with speed and good ball sense,” head coach Ashiq Khan said. “To be in the right place does not happen by chance, and Cameron made it easy for his teammates to find him by playing big in the water. His ability to let questionable play or calls roll off his shoulder allowed him to keep a good attitude as well as provide some laughs for the spectators. Look out for Cameron Taylor next year.”

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