There was more to the conditioning done by the Half Moon Bay High School boys water polo team than just doing drills in the pool.

The dry land work was some of the toughest work the Cougars had ever done.

“We did running, squats, pushups, situps, burpees and spider crawls,” said team member Kevin Merritt. “I was wondering if we were the football team or the water polo team.”

While not complaining about doing the work, there were some players who quietly wondered why the workouts were so intense.

The answer came last week when the Cougars scrimmaged against Aragon. The Aragon coaches officiated, without an official clock or score-keeping, but Half Moon Bay — a member of the lesser Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division — more than held their own against the host Dons — members of the stronger PAL Bay Division.

“All that work definitely paid off,” Merritt said. “They are a very strong team. But we are in better condition.”

The Cougars make their season debut this weekend, participating in the Connolly Tournament at Lynbrook High School in San Jose. Half Moon Bay starts league play on Sept. 13 at Sequoia.

The Cougars were pleased with their showing against Aragon. Offensively, Half Moon Bay’s passing was crisp and solid. When patience was needed to set up a shot, it was there.

Meanwhile, the defense was all over the pool, preventing Aragon from getting some good shot attempts off.

Aragon got a few breakaways. Half Moon Bay’s transition defense limited those scoring attempts.

“This was a good representation for what we could do in the league,” said goalie Kieran Wolk.

However, the Cougars didn’t spend the postgame patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Instead, they discussed things they could have done better.

“We need to work on converting our 6-on-5 opportunities,” Wolk said.

Merritt found a few other items to work on.

“We need to have our heads in the game all the time,” he added. “We also have to be smart without the ball.”

The showing gave the Cougars something to build on.

“I’m excited and anxious for the season to begin,” Merritt said.

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