Posted on 22 October 2013 by La Habra Journal
Grant Harris (shown taking a shot against Sunny Hills) scored a game-tying goal with 47 seconds remaining against Buena Park. The Coyotes won 9-8.
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
In a battle to retain at least a shared positing atop the Freeway League standings, the La Habra water polo team battled Buena Park in a matchup that ended with a game-winning five-meter penalty shot by the visiting Coyotes, lifting them to a narrow 9-8 victory, Tuesday at La Habra High.
The penalty shot was taken by Buena Park’s Alex Kim and hit the lower left corner with 17 seconds remaining. The goal was Kim’s sixth of the game.
La Habra earned a 6-on-5 shortly thereafter, but Grant Roberts’ shot from the left side hit the post and Buena Park regained possession to run out the clock.
“Our set play on that 6-on-5 was supposed to go through Roberts, but he was not supposed to shoot the ball,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “We had two guys who were open inside, but I can’t fault him, if I were a high school kid in his situation, I probably would have shot it too.”
After missed opportunities and good defense displayed by both sides, Buena Park unleashed a flurry in the fourth quarter, turning a one-goal deficit into a narrow victory.
The win keeps Buena Park on top of the league standings, while La Habra falls a game behind after the first round of league play.
For the Highlanders, Sean Pedersen struggled early, as his first four shots were easily blocked by Buena Park goalkeeper Ariel Prado.
“The difference between today’s game and the Troy game [a 14-12 win] was that our shots were falling in that game and we struggled today,” Edwards said. “Maybe we had big-game jitters, but unfortunately Sean had an off-game at set. He played well, just not as well as usual in set.”
Buena Park scored two goals within the first 2:11 of the game, immediately putting pressure on the Highlanders.
However, in a trend that stayed consistent throughout the contest, La Habra was resilient and scored with 13 seconds left to cut the deficit in half.
Pedersen tied it 20 seconds into the second quarter off a pass from Jacob Graham.
But each time La Habra tied, the Coyotes lunged ahead again. La Habra’s only lead came with three seconds left in the third quarter when Grant Harris converted on a five-meter penalty shot.
La Habra took a 6-5 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“This is an interesting team for being so resilient,” Edwards said. “Mentally, the fight is always there, this team knows the game is not over until the final bell rings. That’s one of the things I’m really happy about with this team. Consistency is not quite there, but the fight has been.”
However, that deficit sparked the Coyotes, who scored three unanswered goals to claim their second two-goal lead.
Again, the Highlanders pushed back. Roberts scored off a pass from Michael Weir.
Then, with time winding down, the Coyotes made a big mistake. Swimming backwards with Pedersen in pursuit, Buena Park turned the ball over, giving the ball right to Pedersen on a breakaway.
The senior faked, then easily put a shot in to tie with 47 seconds remaining.
After a pair of turnovers, Kim was left open from close range on the right side, forcing La Habra to foul, leading to the game-winning score.
“Overall, we’re still playing well, we just need those shots to fall,” Edwards said.
The Highlanders will stay at home when they take on Fullerton, Thursday afternoon. The Highlanders defeated Fullerton 15-10 earlier this season.