Posted: Oct 09, 2020
West Valley men's water polo coach Willo Rodriguez has led his Vikings to four consecutive Coast Conference championships, one for each year he's been the head coach in Saratoga.
Rodriguez would be the first to say a water polo team will only go as far as its goalkeeper takes it and he's been blessed to have two of the best in the state during his tenure. Marko Kruska manned the cage for a pair of All-America campaigns in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Xavier Casabella took over net-minding duties and continued the Viking legacy of superior goalkeeping.
Like Kruska, Casabella was an All-Coast, All-NorCal and All-America First Team selection. Overall, he had 139 saves ( a 54.9 save %) and 149 blocks in 114 quarters in the cage. Xavi also excelled in the field with 14 goals, six assists and 19 steals in five games as an attacker. In Coast competition, he compiled a 6-1 record in goal, turning away 50 shots (56.2 save %). He found the back of the net seven times, handed out three assists and snagged 11 steals as a field player.
Rodriguez said of his 2019 season, "In addition to being the best keeper in the state, Xavi was the soul of our team."
Casabella returns for the 2020-2021 season, scheduled to start in early 2021. Casabella, who's "rich water polo background" began in Barcelona playing for Mataró, one of the best clubs in Spain, will be, according to Rodriguez, "without a doubt, the most experienced goalie in the state next season."