Immediate results are rarely demanded of new coaches who take over failing programs. But Harvard water polo Coach Rich Corso isn't waiting until the administration orders him to produce a winning season. Corso is demanding quick results from himself.
"Our goal every year that I'm here is to win CIF," Corso said. "A lot of people say that's not realistic. But our juniors and seniors, they can't wait that long. They've been here and struggled through some lean years."
Harvard, which is ranked No. 10 in the Southern Section 2-A division, has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. The Saracens will get a chance to change that Friday.
On Wednesday, Harvard (15-5) trailed early in the third period but rallied to gain a 11-7 first-round playoff victory over Arroyo Grande at home. The Saracens will meet Redondo--which defeated La Salle on Wednesday, 23-4--in the second playoff round Friday.
"In any type of transition, people are always hesitant to believe," Corso said. "There are always some skeptics. But you get everyone's attention after you win some games."
While the Saracens have grabbed his attention, Corso's coaching has earned the players' respect as well.
"We had a great swimming coach last year, but Corso's shown us things we never thought of before," said Ivan el-Sayed. The senior, who is one of Harvard's leading scorers, accounted for six Harvard goals, including two in the first period, which ended tied at three.
Blaine Kelley kept Arroyo Grande in contention by scoring four goals in the first two periods. Harvard went ahead for good in the third period behind the play of El-Sayed and Fred Brende, who scored twice.
John Mandel, Peter Richards and Mike Chang each scored one goal for Harvard. Chang is one of a talented group of underclassmen whom Corso believes could build a Valley water polo dynasty.
"We've learned the basics of water polo," said Harvard goalie Mark Patterson, who recorded nine saves. "This year we know plays, and with a new coach came a new attitude. It's not just what he tell us to do, but how we think about doing it."
Arroyo Grande (8-13), which hadn't made the playoffs in 10 years, wasn't expected to defeat the Saracens.
"This was one of the best games we've ever played," said Arroyo Grande Coach Tyler Inouye. "I knew we were going against a tough team."