The La Habra boys water polo team had a difficult time contending with Edison in a 13-6 nonleague loss Friday afternoon at La Mirada Splash.
The Highlanders seemed intimidated by Edison’s Division 1 status early on, which allowed the Chargers to jump to a 5-0 lead after the first quarter.
“They’re tough, but we need to be playing tough teams,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “When we did what we were supposed to do, that’s when we converted our points, when we sat around watching everyone else and being afraid, that’s when we got killed.”
Edison’s Justin Harrison was a force on the inside, battling for three of the Chargers first four goals within the first three minutes of the contest. Edison held a 5-0 lead after the first period.
Despite the five goal deficit, Jared Ortiz saved four shots in the first period for La Habra.
“If we can set the tone early, everything else falls in line,” said Ziggy Riley, Edison head coach. “We’ve had some games recently where we struggle to get out of the blocks early and it takes a lot of energy and time to get back into it. It was a good start for us.”
La Habra got on the board when Ben Russell scored from the left side off a pass from Blake Ruschman.
However, Ruschman would be ejected from the game minutes later, giving Edison a goal on the man advantage.
Bernie Hefner, who had a tough time at the center position, added a second goal in the period for the Highlanders with less than a minute remaining in the half.
The Chargers converted 4-of-5 opportunities with the man advantage on the afternoon and Edison led 9-2 at the half behind six goals from Harrison.
In the third quarter, Edison put in subs, which gave La Habra a chance to strike back.
Russell, Jeremy LeVan and Caleb Danielson each scored goals within a 1:30 span, prompting Riley to bring back the starters.
“They got a little confidence and mind you they were playing the bench,” Edwards said. “But even when they brought back the starters to slow our comeback, we played better against them than we did the entire first half, the mental shift happened there.”
The Chargers regained the momentum and put in three quick goals toward the end of the period to regain the seven-point advantage.
Alec Niederland buried a penalty shot and Harrison added two goals.
Each team put in a score in the fourth period as Edison rode out to victory.
Harrison was dominant inside with eight goals on the contest.
“[La Habra] pressed and opened up center a bit and he’s a junior national player, so the ability for him to get set was probably going to be there,” Riley said. “We got him the ball early and good things happened from it and we fed off it.”
Russell led the Highlanders with two goals and four others recorded one each for La Habra and Ortiz finished with nine saves.
“We had some poor shooting and we missed a few opportunities,” Edwards said. “Unfortunately our shooting was off on the last little stretch at the end, otherwise we could have pulled it to 13-9.”
Despite the loss, Edwards hopes the opportunity to play a Division 1 team will help the Highlanders when it comes to playing league favorites Troy and Sunny Hills to close out the first round of league play.
The Highlanders face off against Buena Park at home Tuesday before facing off against Troy, Thursday at Troy High.
“This was a good game to start us off for next week,” Edwards said. “This game was an important one to play. I really think it’s about mental attitude, it needs to change and we need to come out ready to play and ready to win.”