Tag Archive | "water polo"

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Lady Raiders can’t overcome late venue change

Posted on 17 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

sonoraby Alex Miranda
La Habra Journal

Playing at home and playing away can prove to be the difference in a win or a loss and in Thursday’s game it just might have been.

Sonora, scheduled to host their second league match, experienced technical malfunctions at the Sonora Aquatics complex, causing a sudden change in venues.

The Sonora girls’ water polo team fell just short of a win, falling to Fullerton 11-7, Thursday afternoon at Fullerton High. The loss drops Sonora to 4-8, 0-2 on the season.

Creative and unorthodox tactics from the Sonora coaches took center stage in the game. From employing their set as an outside shooter to having their goalie take multiple shots from almost half-tank. Coaches Jim Sprague and Lauren Benson provided a unique strategy that fell one chaotic fourth quarter short of a stunner.

“They’re more aware on defense, they’re looking back to help,” Benson said. “We have played other games where they kind of just face guard and now were starting to look back [to see] that set is okay or if we need to drop back like they do.”

The Lady Raiders capitalized on that tough defense to maintain their deficit at two for the majority of the first half, ending the second quarter down 6-4.

Hannah Wrathall, who finished with three goals in the game, and Sam Husado, with two goals, continued to keep the game close throughout the third quarter.

Nonetheless, they could not gain any momentum as Fullerton and Tessa La Munyon held tight to keep their advantage, 8-6. La Munyon scored 6 goals to lead all players in the game.

The Lady Raider’s defense and speed advantage seemingly vanished in the fourth quarter as a close contest concluded in a rout.

“We had the speed of Jillian [Jacobson] but they started double teaming her so we couldn’t get the ball to her,” Benson said.

On their fourth quarter, Benson said, “Ball awareness and communication [were key], they really needed to talk to each other on offense. They’re open but they don’t call for it.”

Sonora player, Brittany Vasquez expressed similar sentiments after the match.

“There was a lack of communication in the water,” she said. “In practice our coaches like us to communicate but today there were no names being called.”

Sonora will next travel to Buena Park High school for their third league match of the season on Tuesday, January 21.

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La Habra comeback bid falls just short

Posted on 14 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

La Habra's Darin Moore scored twice on two shot attempts in La Habra's 10-8 loss at Santa Monica in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Thursday afternoon.

La Habra’s Darin Moore scored twice on two shot attempts in La Habra’s 10-8 loss at Santa Monica in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Thursday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

A late rally by the La Habra water polo team fell just a bit short in a 10-8 loss to Santa Monica in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Thursday afternoon at Santa Monica High.

Down by four goals heading into the fourth quarter, the Highlanders once again showed their strength as a second-half team by reducing the deficit to one goal with plenty of time for the equalizer.

However, after the teams traded goals, the Vikings held on by scoring with 43 seconds remaining to take a 10-8 lead. On the ensuing Highlanders’ possession, Sean Pedersen’s shot was blocked and the Vikings ran out the clock.

“I’ve mentioned before that it’s been a weird experience for me to have this type of team that always fights back,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “It is good from a character development point-of-view. To me it shows character to fight back hard and not get down on yourselves. I’m really proud of this team for that. I wish they would demonstrate more of that in the first quarter.”

The Highlanders trailed 8-4 heading into the final quarter, but got two quick goals from Pedersen in set, with assists going to Jake Wybaczynsky and Jacob Graham.

Then, after a La Habra turnover, Darin Moore tipped a ball away from Santa Monica goalkeeper Tommy Prada and scored to make the score 8-7.

Both teams missed opportunities before Efe Toros scored for the Vikings while in set. It was the fourth consecutive possession that Toros took a shot from close range. On the fourth attempt, the ball slipped under the hands of La Habra goalkeeper Corey Edwards.

Grant Harris fired a quick shot and scored seven seconds later to make it 9-8 with one minute remaining.

But Jared Klann would have the final say for the Vikings, as his outside shot closed the scoring and Santa Monica’s defense held on to preserve the win and advance to the second round.

“I think that Santa Monica definitely earned it, I’m happy to see them move on,” Edwards said. “It would have been nice for us to move on, but I think for the team we have, this is a good finish for us.”

Pedersen and Harris scored three goals each and Moore added two goals to account for all of La Habra’s scoring.

Goalkeeper Corey Edwards made 12 saves for the Highlanders.

The defensive gameplan for La Habra was similar to its previous two contests, press outside and try to hinder ball movement.

However, that plan ran into trouble when set defender Michael Weir was forced out twice on foul calls, which in turn forced Edwards to substitute for him until the second half.

With Weir out, the Vikings tried to move the ball inside, which forced La Habra to close in.

As a result, outside shooters were able to gain separation. They didn’t miss too many opportunities.

Santa Monica’s Robbie Staenberg scored on three outside shots to lead the Vikings. Three others, including Toros, scored two goals each. Klann finished with four assists.

“The two exclusions on Mike hurt us a lot, it forced us to pull Grant back to play set defense,” Edwards said. “[Santa Monica] moved their set players around quite a bit and had some kids that could make some good moves in there. Mike came back and battled tough in set, Grant came up with some big shots for us, but we just couldn’t hold on defensively. They were placing really good shots. When we had to help out in set, they’re outsides made us pay.”

Santa Monica came out quickly, scoring two goals within the first minute of the game. The Vikings led 4-2 after the first quarter.

Harris and Pedersen scored goals within 20 seconds in the first quarter, Harris drove the center lane on a 6-on-5, while Pedersen stole the ball, earned a foul call and scored as a result.

La Habra pulled within one on Harris’ second goal, but the Vikings closed out the first half with three unanswered goals to take a 7-3 lead.

Each team scored a goal in a third quarter that was slowed by miscues on both sides.

The Highlanders finish up the season at 16-14 overall. Edwards said afterwards that, given the smaller roster, he was happy with what the team accomplished this season.

La Habra will lose seven seniors to graduation.

“Having the seniors on this year’s team gave us depth and helped us in games because guys were able to get rest,” Edwards said, adding that each senior brought a different aspect, which made this team stand out even more.

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Defense leads Highlanders past Wild Card Round

Posted on 12 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

La Habra's Grant Harris led the offensive charge, with three goals in the first half of a 8-4 win over Etiwanda in the Wild Card Round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Tuesday at La Mirada Splash.

La Habra’s Grant Harris led the offensive charge, with three goals in the first half of a 8-4 win over Etiwanda in the Wild Card Round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Tuesday at La Mirada Splash.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

LA MIRADA – The La Habra water polo team continued a trend of shutdown defense in a 8-4 victory over Etiwanda in the Wild Card round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Tuesday afternoon at La Mirada Splash.

Behind a dominant first half, the Highlanders struggled in the second half while trying to force the ball into the two-meter man.

However, the defense more than made up for it.

“They really wanted to move the ball inside and we were able to shut them down,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “The times they were able to move the ball down low, we just had the wrong matchup. I chewed out my players for it, because one player was coming back and the rest weren’t quite as quick.”

Maverick Chen led the defensive charge, hustling back to defend Etiwanda’s biggest scoring threat, Josiah Gordon, down low.

“I was ejected early, so coach told me to spin with him, I had a mental block early,” Chen said. “Coming back in the third and fourth quarter, I honed in on that. I felt good about it, it snowballed in terms of my confidence.”

On the offensive side, Grant Harris sparked the Highlanders in the first quarter with a pair of goals from the outside.

Harris scored three goals, while fellow senior Michael Weir added two goals and two assists as La Habra led 7-2 at halftime.

“They were dropping off early, so we could drive through and shoot from the outside, which worked a lot,” Weir said. “Sean [Pedersen] was fouled in the second quarter, which allowed me an opportunity to shoot a five-meter. I love those chances.”

In the second half, La Habra shut down Gordon and Dawson Hartwig, which were the Eagles’ biggest scoring threats.

Though the Highlanders were outscored in the second half, the interior defense swarmed Gordon inside when he got the ball.

Meanwhile, La Habra forced the issue on the other side, which caused fits for Edwards.

“We got a little too hung up on getting the ball into set in the second half, our movement slowed, which frustrated me,” Edwards said. “It’s where our scoring died out. We normally can finish strong.”

Harris put La Habra up just over a minute into the game with a shot from the outside. The goal came after Etiwanda’s goalie was forced out for the play after committing a foul.

Weir scored on an inside pass from Darin Moore and Pedersen added a goal on an assist from Weir to push the lead to 3-0.

La Habra (16-13) took advantage of fouls in the second quarter. Harris scored on a 6-on-5 and Weir converted on a five-meter penalty shot.

Moore closed out the half with an inside goal on a brilliant pass from Weir.

“We just needed to continue not letting them turn us and get advantages,” Weir said of the mindset going into the second half. “We needed to get better plays on [Gordon], who’s their best player. Once we adjusted there, things worked well.”

Both teams scored goals early in the third quarter, including Etiwanda’s Gordon, but both missed crucial opportunities down the stretch.

Hardwig closed out the scoring 30 seconds into the fourth quarter as La Habra’s defense did the rest.

“We’re really confident now, especially since I didn’t know how I was going to fare against this team,” Chen said. “Watching us do this, if I’m able to come back on defense, I’m the slowest guy on the team, it makes me believe that as a team, we can have success.”

Etiwanda finished the season at 14-10 overall.

The Highlanders head out to Santa Monica for a first round game scheduled for 5 p.m., Thursday.

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Athlete Spotlight: Grant Harris’ development a big key in La Habra’s success

Posted on 11 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

Grant Harris listens intently to a gameplan from Head Coach David Edwards, during a timeout taken in La Habra's 11-8 win over Buena Park last Thursday. Grant's offensive adjustments led to five straight goals in the fourth quarter.

Grant Harris listens intently to a gameplan from Head Coach David Edwards, during a timeout taken in La Habra’s 11-8 win over Buena Park last Thursday. Grant’s offensive adjustments led to five straight goals in the fourth quarter. Shane Morines, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

La Habra senior Grant Harris admitted that being a leader and captain can be a tough gig.

However, when it comes to leading by example, Grant is the perfect fit for a Highlanders’ team that had to fight for a playoff spot last week.

“It’s not easy at all guiding other people, I couldn’t be a coach,” Grant admitted. “I just try to get everyone together and in the same mindset to try and win a game.”

Trailing by three goals heading into the fourth quarter of a crucial matchup with Buena Park last Thursday, Grant scored five consecutive goals to help La Habra overturn the deficit and force a one-game playoff.

That performance alone made Friday’s game easier on his teammates as Buena Park’s defense keyed in on him, allowing Sean Pedersen to score seven goals. His perimeter defense was strong as well.

“We were down by three goals heading into the fourth quarter,” he said of Thursday’s game. “If we lose, it could be my last game ever and I didn’t want to go down that way, on the road against Buena Park. I wanted to put some goals away.”

While Grant described himself as more of a defensive player, his coach, David Edwards, has wanted to develop him on offense and utilize his outside shot.

Couple that with his ability to play strong two-meter defense and Edwards has a pretty good combination against counterattacks.

But Grant’s role expanded with his selection as team captain alongside Sean Pedersen. The duo started playing water polo together when they were in the 6th grade.

“We do a leadership group formed from all the juniors going into their senior year,” Edwards said.  “We spend a lot of time together forming and articulating our goals for the next season and how we’ll get there. Grant was selected because he was aware of the deficits he had as a leader and was willing to work on them. He wanted that ability to take a leadership role on the team and he felt like he worked hard and deserved it.”

On top of that, Grant’s goals for this season were to have fun and improve on his scoring.

One of the highlights for him this season was handing Troy its first blemish in Freeway League play since 2007, snapping a 52-game Freeway League winning streak in the process.

“I think that Troy game brought us together well since no one had done that in a long time,” he said. “We became a lot smarter after that despite some losses we shouldn’t have taken. That was one of the best games we’ve ever had.”

Grant’s passion for water polo began with Tyler Copley, who is a close friend to Grant’s older brother Chad. When the two of them started playing together was when Grant started to take notice.

It wasn’t long before he was learning how to egg-beat and swim at La Mirada Splash, which led to playing with La Mirada Armada.

And while Grant prides himself on his defense, he loves the opportunity to take a five-meter penalty shot.

“I love five-meter shots, they’re my favorite thing ever,” he said. “Just getting up big and shooting it in is always fun.”

The senior had an opportunity and converted in the decisive third-place game Friday, which allowed La Habra to continue its season and also allowed Grant to continue to be a leader by example.

“For Grant his comfort is definitely his defense, that’s where he feels the most confident,” Edwards said. “As a coach, and most of the other coaches he’s worked with have said that Grant has the capability of being a dominant player offensively and it’s just been us pushing…. [But Thursday] was all him. We were getting opportunities early, they just weren’t going in. In the fourth quarter they kept leaving him open and he took every single opportunity and converted goals.”

While finishing up his senior season in the pool, Grant enjoys studying History and had a particular interest in Physics. However, as of now, he enjoys studying Forensics, which coincides with a possible field of study in criminal justice.

In his spare time, he enjoys staying outdoors and riding his dirt bike, or taking trips to the river for water skiing and wakeboarding.

And it’s not hard to see where Grant’s hard work comes from.

“I would have to say my dad is my biggest role model,” he said. “He’s a good guy, he’s a cop and works hard.”

As Grant’s senior year starts to wind down, his goals are still team oriented. While he still wants to have fun and achieve good grades to close out his career at La Habra, in the pool with his teammates, he wants to have no regrets.

“I just want us to work together,” he said. “Regardless of how far we go, I want us to leave it all in the pool and say we were proud of what we accomplished.”

If Grant and the team employ the same mindset it had last Thursday and Friday, there’s no reason to anticipate anything less.

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Highlanders shut down Buena Park, earn playoff berth

Posted on 08 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

La Habra's Jacob Graham takes a shot on goal against Buena Park during Thursday's 11-8 victory. Graham scored two goals in a one-game playoff, Friday afternoon.

La Habra’s Jacob Graham takes a shot on goal against Buena Park during Thursday’s 11-8 victory. Graham scored two goals in a one-game playoff, Friday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The first two Freeway League meetings between La Habra and Buena Park went down to the final minute in the fourth quarter.

In the first game, Buena Park won on a five-meter penalty shot with 12 seconds remaining. The second time, La Habra trailed until Grant Harris put the team up with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

In a one-game playoff Friday afternoon at Troy High, La Habra got the quick start it had been looking for and never let up in a dominant 12-4 win over Buena Park to claim the Freeway League’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.

It was the second win over Buena Park in as many days.

“We didn’t want to win yesterday only to lose today,” said senior Sean Pedersen, who led all scorers with seven goals. “That was the focus for us today, it kept us in the game.”

Pedersen and the Highlanders picked up defensively where they left off in Thursday’s fourth quarter, by pressing the outside shooters and causing issues for the Coyotes’ ball movement.

The tactic netted two counterattack goals in the first quarter and a handful of man advantages as the Highlanders led 7-0 at half.

“I was a little concerned that they would try to pick off our leading scorers,” Edwards said. “I was confident that we had other scorers just in case. Defensively, I wanted our outsides to feel out the refs early when we pressed. All of a sudden, they’re forcing the perimeter players to work more, now we have opportunities to steal and counterattack, it played well into what we were trying to do early.”

Pedersen scored three goals in the first half and Harris added two to lead La Habra.

When Buena Park was able to ring off a shot, La Habra goalkeeper Corey Edwards was there to knock it down.

The senior goalkeeper made the game difficult for Buena Park’s leading scorer Andy Kim, who scored just two goals.

“We were focused on playing the best that we could and not being nervous,” Corey Edwards said. “We wanted to feel proud. There were a couple things yesterday that I picked up on, which made me more comfortable today, but the team picked up on them as well and that was a huge help for me.”

To make matters worse for the Coyotes (8-15, 6-5), they failed to capatilize on any advantages in the first half, missing on three five-meter penalty shots and failing to convert on three 6-on-5 advantages.

Meanwhile, Harris hit a five-meter penalty shot and scored on another counterattack in the second quarter.

Pedersen made his presence felt down low, scoring both of his third-quarter goals on rebounds, while Kim scored twice for Buena Park in the period, but the deficit was too much for the Coyotes to overcome as La Habra led 10-2 heading into the fourth quarter.

“During yesterday’s game, Grant commandeered their attention when he scored those five goals,” Pedersen said. “That relieved a little pressure off of me and opened things up for both of us.”

La Habra (15-13, 7-4) cruised to the victory and a third-place finish in the Freeway League.

Corey Edwards finished with 12 saves for La Habra and the defense allowed only four shots to reach him in the first half.

Meanwhile, Jacob Graham added two first-half goals and Garrett Roberts scored in the third quarter for the Highlanders.

“Thankfully, we adapted to what we saw yesterday on 6-on-5 defense, that adjustment helped a lot,” David Edwards said. “I was very surprised that we were able to shut them out in the first half. A team like Buena Park, you don’t expect to shut out in one half, I knew it wouldn’t happen the entire game. We knew they would make some good adjustments, but we were able to maintain.”

The Highlanders will now turn their attention to the Division 4 playoffs, which open up with the Wild Card round on Tuesday.

La Habra will find out who it will play on Sunday afternoon when the CIF-SS Pairings are released.

“To see a team that’s been struggling in the first quarter all year, to see them come out hard today, it means a lot,” David Edwards said. “It means a lot that they can come out strong and try to take control right away rather than fight back from a deficit. Hopefully we can carry that through into CIF.”

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Grant Harris leads comeback, Highlanders force one-game playoff

Posted on 07 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

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Grant Harris hits the left corner for one of his five 4th-quarter goals in La Habra’s 11-8 win over Buena Park, Thursday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

With an emphatic come-from-behind 11-8 win, the La Habra water polo team kept its quest for a guaranteed playoff spot alive, defeating Buena Park to force a tie between the two teams for third place in the Freeway League, Thursday afternoon at Buena Park High.

The two teams will face off again tomorrow afternoon at Troy High, with the winner taking the third and final guaranteed playoff spot from the Freeway League.

While Sean Pedersen’s scoring kept the Highlanders in the game through three quarters, it was Grant Harris who stepped in during the fourth quarter, scoring five consecutive goals to give La Habra a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Highlanders trailed 7-4 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t want to lose here today,” Harris said. “I just tried to turn it on a bit more and put my shots away. I’d been missing a lot lately, so I knew I had to get my mind right and get it done.”

Harris put La Habra ahead for the first time with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter as La Habra had a man-advantage, which brought an emphatic fist pump from David Edwards, La Habra’s head coach.

Early in the fourth quarter, Edwards ordered his team to press the Coyotes around the perimeter, which hindered Buena Park’s ability to move the ball around.

On the offensive side, La Habra (14-13, 6-4) earned four crucial 6-on-5 advantages, all of which led to scores.

Sean Pedersen finds space in front of the cage and scored his fourth goal of the game on this play in the third quarter of La Habra's 11-8 win over Buena Park, Thursday.

Sean Pedersen finds space in front of the cage and scored his fourth goal of the game on this play in the third quarter of La Habra’s 11-8 win over Buena Park, Thursday.

“When you’re down three goals, you have a couple choices in terms of how to get back into the game,” Edwards said. “We could have tried to send guys down early hoping to get counterattack goals, but that doesn’t work so well in small pools. We shut down their good ball movement and even off the press, we did a great job helping on the set and that helped us through. It turned the game around for us. Today we made the right decisions.”

After falling behind 2-1 after the first quarter, Buena Park (8-14, 6-4) turned the tides in the second, shutting down the Highlanders offensively as Macklin Magdaleno scored twice and Andy Kim scored two of his five goals to take a 5-2 advantage into halftime.

Of the Coyotes’ five goals, four of them were scored while Buena Park had the 6-on-5 advantage.

Pedersen’s hard work at the two-meter position aided in keeping the deficit at three goals heading into the fourth quarter. The senior had scored all four of La Habra’s goals through the first three quarters.

“Sean continues to struggle a bit at set, he’s never been a set player and has had to play that position because we have no one else to turn to,” Edwards said. “He continues to fight and will get goals, just not as many as we’d like, but we need other outside shooters to step up, especially on 6-on-5 advantages.”

Two minutes into the fourth quarter, La Habra started to move. Mike Weir and Harris scored on the man advantage.

Harris then hit the upper left corner on an outside shot to tie the game at 7-7.

However, 18 seconds later, Kim put the Coyotes back on top with his fifth goal.

La Habra's Sean Pedersen defends Buena Park's Andy Kim in the third quarter of La Habra's 11-8 win, Thursday. Kim led Buena Park with five goals.

La Habra’s Sean Pedersen defends Buena Park’s Andy Kim in the third quarter of La Habra’s 11-8 win, Thursday. Kim led Buena Park with five goals.

But Harris wasn’t done yet, the senior scored back-to-back goals from the left side on the man advantage to put La Habra ahead for good.

“They have always been a second half team as far as where their fight comes in,” Edwards said of his team. “I’ve always been impressed with how they fight back even when we’re in a game that we’ll end up losing, they’ll fight until the end. I think we came out strong in the first half, we just couldn’t hit our shots and that’s where our struggles are. The first quarter is the question.”

Maverick Chen closed out the scoring with a goal as time expired.

The win by La Habra ties both teams for third place in the Freeway League, meaning a showdown will take place tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. at Troy High, with the winner getting the guaranteed playoff spot.

“We didn’t put our shots away in the first half today,” Harris said. “If we do that throughout the game tomorrow, I think we could do even better than we did today.”

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Early flurry keeps La Habra’s playoff hopes alive

Posted on 05 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

La Habra's Sean Pedersen takes a shot on goal while Sonora goalie Nick Angulo prepares to block in a 17-9 La Habra win, Thursday afternoon.

La Habra’s Sean Pedersen takes a shot on goal in the first matchup between rival schools. Pedersen scored three goals for the Highlanders, Tuesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

A quick start fueled the La Habra water polo team to a 13-6 victory over visiting city rival Sonora, Tuesday afternoon at La Habra High.

The Highlanders jumped ahead 4-0 and cruised to victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive in the process.

However, La Habra (13-13, 5-4) remained in fourth place in the Freeway League standings and a game behind both Sunny Hills and Buena Park. The Highlanders travel to Buena Park to close out the season, Thursday afternoon.

“I think Sonora’s somewhat lack of defense almost made things confusing at times for my guys where they were open at times they weren’t expecting to be,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “It was a little chaotic for me, I didn’t like that, but the boys recognized their opportunities and took advantage of mistakes.”

Sean Pedersen led a widespread La Habra offensive attack with three goals, while four other Highlanders scored two goals each.

Richard Atnip led the way for the Raiders, scoring all three of his team’s second half goals. Dominik Kus had a pair of goals in the second quarter.

The scoring came early for La Habra as Mike Weir put the Highlanders on the board 10 seconds into the first quarter by lofting a long-distance shot over the head of Sonora goalkeeper Nick Angulo.

Within the next two minutes, the Highlanders led 3-0 on goals by Maverick Chen and Pedersen.

“I wanted to see them come out strong and fast, we have a tendency to take the first quarter to warm up,” Edwards said. “They did come out fast, but I think overall we played an okay game. My guys played good defense the entire way.”

Art Martinez scored Sonora’s lone first-quarter goal from the two-meter mark.

The teams evened out in the second quarter as Kus put two more shots in for Sonora from inside, but La Habra led 7-3 at half.

“Our gameplan was to get the ball inside to the two-meter man and we didn’t do it enough,” said Jim Sprague, Sonora coach. “We got the ball down there maybe four or five times and got three goals out of it. I thought we did a good job in the third quarter, but we didn’t do it in the first quarter and that’s been our problem all year, locating the two-meter guard and playing accordingly.”

The Raiders (6-20, 1-8) kept the deficit at four thanks to two Atnip goals, but the Highlanders pulled away toward the end of the third quarter when Darin Moore and Pedersen scored within a 36-second span.

The duo upped the lead to 13-5 in the fourth quarter before Atnip struck again with just under two minutes to play.

“[Richard] has been our leader all along,” Sprague said. “Our big guys don’t swim well sometimes, but we don’t have a choice, so Richard tries to go down low, but he’s so small, he takes a pounding. He’s still the best driver we have.”

Weir, Chen, Moore and Jake Wybaczynsky each scored twice for the Highlanders.

Sonora will finish the regular season with a matchup against Sunny Hills, Thursday afternoon at Sonora.

“A start without a disaster is what we’re looking for,” Sprague said. “It’s plagued us all season long, but there’s no reason for it. We’re hoping to keep it close early.”

La Habra enters a showdown at Buena Park on Thursday afternoon. A win by the Highlanders would tie them with Buena Park for third place in the Freeway League.

“It was a good game overall, I’m proud of the guys, but I don’t think it prepared us for Thursday as much as I wanted,” Edwards said. “This being a chaotic game, I don’t think it really accomplished that, so we’re going to have to work hard in practice tomorrow.”

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Troy’s pressing defense overpowers La Habra

Posted on 31 October 2013 by La Habra Journal

Grant Harris (pictured against Sonora earlier this season) scored one of La Habra's two goals to put La Habra up 1-0 in the first quarter.

Grant Harris (pictured against Sonora earlier this season) scored one of La Habra’s two goals to put La Habra up 1-0 in the first quarter.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Hoping to repeat the same magic it created over two weeks ago, the La Habra water polo team couldn’t contain an aggressive Troy defense and counterattack, falling 11-2 in a crucial Freeway League contest, Thursday afternoon at Troy High.

In the first meeting between the two teams, the Highlanders ended a Warriors Freeway League winning streak that dated back to before the 2007 season with a 14-12 win.

Down 2-1 at the half, the Highlanders (12-13, 4-4) were in good position to try for a sweep of the Warriors.

Troy (12-10, 7-1) had other ideas.

“I think they played the better game today, they definitely played us better than two weeks ago,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “I thought the calls were a little one-sided, calls that went for them on one side of the pool, I felt weren’t getting called on the other side, but even if we did get those few exclusions, I still think they would have won.”

Pressing the outside shooters, the Warriors caused a handful of turnovers, which led to counterattack possibilities.

The result was a 5-1 advantage for Troy in the third quarter, which carried over into the fourth quarter.

Because of the press, La Habra struggled to maintain possession. Any attempts to get the ball inside were immediately taken away.

“Last time, they thought we would attack down low, so we lit them up from the outside and had plenty of time to shoot,” Edwards said. “This time, they pressed us like crazy and we couldn’t do anything.”

Troy’s Trent Samaha was a big factor on both sides, effectively taking Sean Pedersen out of the mix with his two-meter defense.

On offense, Samaha was either outside dictating the offense, or driving inside to score. He led all scorers with five goals.

“He was able to drive effectively and when he gets down low at center-cage in a catch-and-shoot, there’s no stopping him,” Edwards said of Samaha. “It was nice having Sean back in the pool, but Trent played him very physically and he couldn’t get in set, so I’m hoping he stays positive.”

However, the first half was all about defense. Grant Harris put La Habra up just over a minute into the contest with a long range shot that found the top left corner of the cage.

Troy responded with scores from Johnathan Shim and Samaha.

The two teams went scoreless in the second quarter, with the shot advantage swinging heavily in Troy’s favor. La Habra goalkeeper Corey Edwards was up to the task, with five saves in the second quarter alone.

“Corey’s been having some great games and he was a huge reason we kept it close in the first half,” Edwards said. “We made some mistakes defensively and he was able to cover for that, but as soon as Troy recognized where their openings were and stopped forcing the ball inside, it made it more difficult for Corey to read it.”

Adjustments aided the Warriors in the second half. After Pedersen scored to make the score 3-2, Troy controlled the remaining quarter-and-a-half by pressing the Highlanders outside.

Six different Warriors scored one goal each, while Adrian Barragan and Tommy Georgopoulos assisted three goals each.

Edwards blocked 10 shots on goal in the first half and had 13 saves overall.

The Highlanders will host city rival Sonora, Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.

“We have a big week coming up, if we want to end above .500 then we have to win the next two games,” Edwards said. “There’s no point in crying over the past.”

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Highlanders drop crucial league game in double overtime

Posted on 29 October 2013 by La Habra Journal

_MG_0298by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The La Habra Highlanders’ boys water polo team lost a heart-breaker to Sunny Hills in the form of an 8-7 defeat in double overtime, Tuesday afternoon at La Habra High.

The Highlanders were at a disadvantage before the game even started. Their leading scorer, Sean Pedersen, did not play for personal reasons.

The game was knotted at 7-7 after four quarters. No scoring happened in the first overtime, despite two six-on-fives, for the Lancers, in the period. They had another one in the second overtime but could not score.

However, La Habra gave Sunny Hills one last six-on-five with 24 seconds left in the game. This time, with just three seconds remaining, Matthew Chang threw in the game-winning goal.

“Sometimes I do not understand our six-on-five defense,” said La Habra head coach David Edwards. “I knew what Sunny Hills was going to do when they were up, and I thought the team did, yet we gave them two late goals from the slot.”

The Lancers (18-8, 5-2) also tied the game with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a six-on-five goal.

The Highlanders (12-12, 4-3) needed someone to rise to the occasion, and Michael Weir did early on. Weir had two of the Highlanders’ three goals in the first quarter, and was a big reason the game was tied. He added a third goal in the third quarter.

“Michael was huge for us today,” Edwards said. “We needed someone to step up in Pedersen’s absence and he did.”

Senior Grant Harris was another player they were looking at to step up, but he only put up one goal and two assists. Maverick Chen also stepped up with two goals.

However, late in the game, the Highlanders had too many lapses and let the Lancers come back from 7-5 down in the fourth to steal the win.

“As much as we wanted to win the game, I am very proud of the way our boys played,” Edwards said. “We played Sunny Hills close without our leading scorer.”

With the loss, the Highlanders fall to 4-3 in Freeway League play. They will now play a very important game, Thursday against Troy.

La Habra upset the Warriors earlier in the year and want to prove that it was not a fluke.

“We have a lot to prove in that game,” Edwards said. “We need to let them know that we are a better team than them and that was not a one-time thing.”

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Raiders strong comeback bid falls short against Fullerton

Posted on 29 October 2013 by La Habra Journal

Richard Atnip (shown against La Habra) put the Raiders on the board in the second quarter of Sonora's 11-10 loss to Fullerton, Tuesday afternoon.

Richard Atnip (shown against La Habra) put the Raiders on the board in the second quarter of Sonora’s 11-10 loss to Fullerton, Tuesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

A comeback attempt by the Sonora boys’ water polo team fell one goal short in a 11-10 loss to Fullerton, Tuesday at Fullerton High.

Down 7-1 at one point in the second quarter, the Raiders put in the final three goals of the first half and added two more in the second half to reduce the deficit to one goal at 7-6.

Sonora tied it up at 8-8 on a goal by Matt Ferguson, but the Raiders could not get a go-ahead score before Fullerton pulled away with goals by Sergio Torres and Everett Briggs.

Fullerton hung on despite a goal by Sonora’s Conrad Napier that put the Raiders at a one-goal deficit with seven seconds remaining.

“I thought we did a great job of clawing back in it,” said Jim Sprague, Sonora coach. “The problem today was outside shooting, it’s been good in the past, but we just didn’t have it today.”

The Raiders struggled with outside shooting and, but capitalized when they were able to go inside.

However, those opportunities were limited as the Indians once again focused their defensive efforts on stopping the two-meter attack.

Looking for its first league win, Fullerton jumped out early and took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter.

“We had a miserable first quarter and they were struggling with the concept that if the opponent is going to double team our two-meter man, then there is an extra shooter open somewhere,” Sprague said. “Finding that extra man is the solution to our problem.”

The Indians stretched it to 5-0 with goals by Rob Winder and Dave Tsuda early in the second quarter, but that’s when Sonora woke up.

Richard Atnip got the Raiders on the board with 3:45 remaining in the half. Dominik Kus, Shane Conlin and Napier added their goals within the final two minutes.

“Dominik has done a great job for us this week, he had a great day in practice yesterday and it translated today,” Sprague said. “With Chanse Lyster going down with an injury, he’s really stepped up.”

Kus and Art Martinez pulled the Raiders within one with attacks from the two-meter position, but Fullerton added a goal on a deflection to maintain the lead.

Fullerton’s win puts both teams at 1-6 in Freeway League play. Sonora will host Buena Park, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High.

“I have to give credit to Fullerton, they did a great job,” Sprague said. “They really wanted it today and they came out quick. We caught them, but then we got outplayed and we were too quick with outside shooting.”

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