Terra Nova had the weekend to stew over a stunning 32-21 Peninsula Athletic League loss to Aragon on Friday in which it blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead – a loss that has by all accounts triggered some self-reflection for players and coaches alike.
And although the Aragon game offers lessons they probably shouldn't forget, clinging to disappointment too much is a luxury the Tigers can't afford, either.
"We should evaluate our effort," Terra Nova coach Bill Gray said. "We should look at what we're doing to make sure that doesn't happen again."
Gray acknowledged that the tough loss has been hard on everyone involved with the program, but said that his team needs to move on from a loss that’s unlikely to evoke much pity from their opponents.
Gray said he went over everything that went wrong in the Aragon game in meetings later in the day and at practices on Saturday.
He said the focus in practices this week will be on the what lies ahead.
"If we win our next two games we will be co-(league) champions," he said.
The Tigers opened this week's practice on Monday determined to thread that fine line between dwelling on their most disappointing loss of the season and not learning from it.
"We just need to keep working hard," two-way lineman Domonic De Souza said. "We have to focus on our next opponent."
Terra Nova's next opponent is Menlo-Atherton.
The Bears (5-3, 3-1 PAL Bay) are coming off a 14-7 league loss to Sacred Heart Prep on Friday. Menlo-Atherton, along with Terra Nova (4-4, 2-1) and Sacred Heart Prep (7-1, 3-1) are separated by a half game atop the PAL Bay heading into the last two weeks.
De Souza said that moving past the disappointment of the Aragon game is a challenge for the seniors who will need to show leadership in practices this week.
It's a challenge that that receiver/defensive back Clark Tolero said he and his fellow seniors take personally.
"We definitely need to work hard and step up," Tolero said. "We want to be that first group to win the PAL four years in a row, so the seniors definitely have to step up."
Anatomy of a collapse:
Gray acknowledged that trying to make sense of one of the toughest losses his program has experienced in recent memory offered more questions than answers.
There were intangibles, such as the ability to close out games, and matchup problems the Aragon receiving corps presented that became more pronounced in the fourth quarter.
Gray indicated that a review of his team’s unraveling doesn’t point to any individual aspect of his team’s performance.
“There are a myriad of reasons, none of which are really compelling if you take them one at a time, but when you accumulate them all it’s sufficient to produce a one-point loss and a reasonably large collapse,” he said.
Gray suggested that he wasn’t satisfied with the way his players prepared for the Aragon game.
“There are a lot of things that go on Monday through Friday preceding a game; some of them are on the field and some of them are off the field and they're all interconnected,” Gray said. “I can't go into any more depth than that.”
Gray said he spoke with his players about the preparation issues he didn’t want to discus publicly.
He seems to have gotten through.
“We really just need to work harder,” Tolero said. “Last week's practices were pretty good but we really need to make them even better to beat a really good team such as MA.”
Part of what made evaluating Terra Nova’s performance in the Aragon so perplexing was that Tigers played some of their best football for a good chunk of the game.
Quarterback K’Ren Spain was 34 for 39 passing for 399 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, and running back Tanner Piccolotti rushed for 125 yards on 13 carries as the Tigers combined for 560 yards of total offense.
Terra Nova’s defense was solid, especially against the run, and the Tigers special teams were humming along.
“The interesting thing is that for three quarters we were the dominant team,” Gray said.
They weren’t the dominant team in the fourth quarter.
“We made several mistakes that started spiraling and it fed Aragon's momentum,” Gray said. “It spiraled down for us and we had trouble stopping it.”
Gray said what his team experienced on Friday is something most football teams at just about every level go through at some point.
“As soon as someone figures out how to stop it from happening they'll write a book and make a lot of money,” Gray said.
Poloist ties school record:
Terra Nova water polo standout Joel Crossfield tied a school record, scoring nine goals to lead the Tigers to a 17-11 victory over Half Moon Bay in a PAL Ocean game on Oct. 23.
Crossfield tied a record set in 2004 by Dan Brown.
Devin Johnson added five goals for Terra Nova, which avenged a loss to their coastal rivals earlier this year in which the Tigers had several starters out with the flu.
Eagles soar to new heights:
Alma Heights Christian completed its Private School League North championship campaign as the Eagles defeated Jewish Community 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-14) on Thursday.
Standout Jade Tu had eight kills and setter Keola Lamadora had 17 assists as the Eagles (18-4, 10-0 PSL North) won their 10th straight league match and their 16th match overall.
The Eagles concluded regular season play with a 3-1 (25-16, 14-25, 25-17, 25-21) victory over More in a nonleague match on Friday.