The 2022-23 All-Napa County Boys Water Polo team is comprised of 10 seniors and three juniors. Five of the seniors and one of the juniors helped Vintage capture the Vine Valley Athletic League crown.
Here is a look at the team:
Pearce Alger, Justin-Siena senior
Before becoming one of the Braves’ top wrestlers in the winter, the team captain shined in his first season as a water polo goalkeeper. “Pearce saved us in numerous games with his outstanding goalie play,” head coach John Derr said. “Very proud to see how well he did for his only season in goal.”
Pietro Bonera, Napa High senior
The Italian exchange student was a newcomer to water polo this year, but quickly picked up the game and was a force on both offense and defense for the Grizzles. With his laser-beam focus and shooting, Bonera scored 14 goals on 44 shots, grabbed 12 steals and kept the team on track. “For a first-year player to finish out the season so strong, it is no wonder that Bonera was our most improved player,” Coach Khan said.
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Sawyer Bristow, Vintage senior
With 47 steals and a field block, the center defender knew how contain even the strongest of centers. With 29 kickouts this season, he was a typical center defender in that he got a lot of the brunt and sometimes had to sacrifice himself for the team. He also beat a school record with the most steals in a game — 10 steals against Ukiah in Vintage’s third game. “As a captain, he is one of the top communicators and always encourages his team to practice as hard as they play,” head coach Addie Clem said.
Per Oskar “PO” Casey, Vintage junior
A leader in the pool, Casey accumulated 92 goals to finish as the Crusher’s second-leading scorer. He also earned 27 assists, 41 steals, and 16 caused exclusions. “He is a top communicator in and out of the water, and always encourages his teammates to play their best,” head coach Addie Clem said.
Andrew Dillon, Napa High junior
A co-captain and utility player, Dillon led the Grizzlies with 95 goals on 154 shots while playing all 28 minutes of most games. “His strength and fitness also forced the opponents to commit 24 exclusions while trying to guard him at center,” head coach Ashiq Khan said.” Dillon was awarded the Grizzlies’ Most Outstanding Player Award and was selected to All-VVAL First Team.
Noah Ewig, Vintage senior
The calculated one on the team, Ewig always had stats of other teams and could estimate outcomes of entire tournaments. The team captain led the Crushers in decorum and positive attitude. He accumulated 17 goals, 36 assists, 50 steals, nine caused exclusions and five field blocks. “Don't underestimate Noah,” head coach Addie Clem said. “He may be small, but he was a huge asset to the team.”
Nico Franco, Napa High senior
Franco, a team co-captain, played his third season for the Grizzlies, though head coach Ashiq Khan said it would have been four if not for the pandemic canceling his sophomore season. “Nico’s role embodies what every coach and team would love to have in the water — versatility,” Khan said. “He is the only Grizzly to have tallied in every column, a stat that is extensively tracked. Playing from a tough center defender position, Franco led Napa High in assists, steals and field blocks. He also added 26 goals and was selected to the All-VVAL Second Team.
Kaliq Khan, Vintage senior
With a 58% shooting accuracy, 69 steals and 6 field blocks, the son of Napa High head coach Ashiq Khan is an all-around skilled athlete in water polo for the Crushers. He alone beat 4 school records this season: 51 drawn ejections in one season, 56 assists in one season, 12 goals scored in a single game, and 123 goals scored in one season — the previous record being 99 goals. “Kaliq was a lead playmaker for us and put his entire heart into each game and practice,” head coach Addie Clem said. “He inspired his teammates to play 110%.”
Matthew Lloyd, Vintage senior
The 6-foot-7 Lloyd recently signed with UC Merced’s NAIA program to be the Bobcats’ goalkeeper. For the Crushers, he accumulated 197 saves with another 41 steals and a 60.2 save percentage. He owns the school record for career saves with 369 in his three seasons. “As a captain,” head coach Addie Clem said, “he is a positive role model for his teammates and is one of the top communicators in the pool.”
Tanner Low, Vintage senior
Low had 40 goals, 47 assists, 62 steals and 9 field blocks this season.
“Tanner is a strong second-year player,” head coach Addie Clem said. “He is one of the faster athletes and will chase after anything he needs to. He is a strong team player who always looks out for his teammates and communicates when he needs help, which helped with our success this season.”
Aidan Machado, Justin-Siena senior
Head coach John Derr called Machado, a team captain, “our most committed defensive player. He played the defensive hole set the entire season and rarely missed a practice.”
Gabriel Orozco, Napa High senior
The goalkeeper nicknamed “Titi” was another three-year player for the Grizzlies who brought his soccer talents to the pool and excelled in the cage. Orozco finished with 252 blocks and, with his quick thinking, propelled the offense with 117 great outlet passes to get them up the pool. The Grizzlies owe much of their success to Orozco, their defensive player of the year.
Aidan Phinney, Justin-Siena senior
Phinney scored 45 goals this season. “Aidan was our offensive leader and also one of our three captains,” Braves head coach John Derr said. “A great kid to coach and very committed to practicing to get better.”
Cameron Scargle, Napa High junior
The driver stepped up for the Grizzlies this year and provided much needed speed and pressure. He had an impressive 29 goals on 55 shots while forced 20 steals. “Cameron is a very clean player whose stats speak for themselves,” Ashiq Khan said. “He beat the opponent to the ball countless times and provided his teammates other opportunities with his ability to cover large areas of water quickly.”