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At Witt's End

Glendale's Goal-Scoring Machine Dwells on the One That Got Away

September 29, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — In the last two seasons, Kevin Witt has scored more goals than any water polo player in the region.

But the goal he remembers most vividly is the one he allowed.

Glendale High last year was playing Pacific League rival Crescenta Valley, which had won five consecutive Pacific League titles without losing a league game.

"There were 37 seconds left," Witt said. "I took off swimming for offense, my man slipped behind me and just tapped it in."

Crescenta Valley won, 6-5.

Witt and the Dynamiters get their chance at redemption this week. Glendale (5-1) plays at Crescenta Valley at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, hoping to end the Falcons' 48-game league winning streak. The teams could also meet in the second round of the El Segundo tournament on Friday.

Witt still thinks about the goal. His coach, Chris Axelgard, says there's no need.

"That's just garbage. Anybody could have tapped it in," Axelgard said. "We wouldn't have been anywhere near that position without him. He was 80% of our offense."

Witt led the region last year with 114 goals, helping the Dynamiters to second place in league play and to the first round of the Southern Section Division III playoffs, where they lost.

In six games this season, he has 43 goals. If Glendale goes deep into the playoffs and Witt keeps up his pace, he would crack the section all-time top 10 for goals in a season.

It could happen, because Glendale is a much better team than last year.

The Dynamiters reached the championship game of the Jim Toring tournament two weeks ago. Before losing in the final to Harvard-Westlake, Glendale had dominated opponents, proving the Dynamiters are on a par with La Canada, Crescenta Valley and the rest of the elite Division III teams from the region.

After beginning the season unranked in the division poll, Glendale has climbed to sixth. But because of the Dynamiters' higher profile, Witt is having more difficulty sneaking up on people.

"It's usually after the first goal," Witt said. "Then other teams realize they have to shut me down. That's all right, I'm having a lot more fun getting assists and steals."

In Glendale's 14-7 victory over South Pasadena last week, Witt had 10 assists and 10 steals. He scored the other four goals.

But if academics came to Witt as easily as water polo, he never would have attended Glendale.

Witt spent his freshman year at Loyola High, but he struggled in the classroom and transferred to Glendale, where he immediately became an impact player.

"I didn't know how much training he had, but I knew pretty much right away he was going to step in and start from day one," Axelgard said. "He was far ahead of everybody else."

Witt had played club water polo since seventh grade, and further developed his game at Loyola.

"I learned a lot from the [Loyola] coaches, more than I have in any other year," Witt said. "The competition in Division I is at a whole other level than Division III."

Witt's academic difficulties continued at Glendale. He was ineligible for the second half of his sophomore year, before finally turning things around.

"It just took him a while to mature," Axelgard said.

Witt's older brother, Kyle, is one of Loyola Marymount's leading scorers as a sophomore. He received a half-scholarship after starring at Loyola High.

Now, Witt wants to join him.

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