The Mira Costa boys’ water polo team claimed at least a share of the Bay League title following a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over Palos Verdes in Manhattan Beach on Tuesday.
The Mustangs can win the league outright with a win in either of their final two contests against West Torrance or Redondo Union.
Mira Costa goalie Garrett Allen scored the winning goal on an incredible shot that landed perfectly into the Sea Kings’ goal with 2:08 remaining in regulation. He lofted a shot from outside his own goal after Palos Verdes goalie Liam Foley had ventured out too far from his goal.
It was the first varsity goal in his career and it will be a memorable one.
“It’s a lot of fun (to score),” Allen said. “I usually don’t get the chance because I play goalie.”
Allen, who played the second half of the game, talked about what made him go for it.
“The (PV) goalie does a great job of cutting off angles, but when he’s cutting off angles, he goes out too far sometimes. So, I saw him going out far,” Allen said. “This time he was actually trying to stop me from passing all the way over to the person on the counter-attack and I saw him come out, so I just kind of chucked it.”
And it was a perfect chuck, right into the goal.
“It was really cool that he was paying attention like we talked about in practice and he was able to execute,” said teammate Colin Le, who saw his goalie throw the ball. “That was crazy. Like, he was able to help us win the game.”
Goalies have scored goals before, but it was the first time Costa coach Jon Reichardt saw his goalie score the winning goal in such an important game.
Against Palos Verdes, he had been “wanting” his goalies to shoot the ball.
“We have been waiting for the last three times we have been played these guys for one of my goalies to shoot the ball on goal because it is wide open half of the time. And, finally one of my goalies saw it and threw it in,” Reichardt said.
It is something players work on at practice.
“A goalie should be able to make a full court shot from at least three-quarters of the way and put it in there,” Reichardt said.
Mira Costa is 6-0 in the Bay League. Palos Verdes dropped to 13-6 overall, 4-2 in league.
Mira Costa beat Palos Verdes on the road in an earlier Bay League meeting in overtime. And then, the Mustangs lost to the Sea Kings in the South Bay Tournament championship game at Mira Costa.
Palos Verdes felt they had a chance to win.
“It comes down to more of our defensive errors. We just gave them some easy goals in the first half,” said Palos Verdes sixth-year head coach Patrick O’Brien, who pointed out that they held Mira Costa to two goals in the second half. “It’s our first half that really put us behind.”
Now Mira Costa will prepare for the toughest part of their schedule when they play some of the top teams in Division I.
“In nine days, we have eight games coming up,” said Reichardt, who will prepare his team for the playoffs with those games.
Mira Costa led 3-2 after the first period on goals by Alex Nahabed, Hudson Carter and Le.
At the half, the Mustangs were still clinging to a one-goal advantage, 6-5, on second period goals by Clay Allen, Carter and Le.
Aiden Watson scored for Palos Verdes with 4:51 left in the third period to tie it all up and Bariz gave the Sea Kings their only lead of the game with 1:32 left in the third period for a 7-6 advantage.
“They just told me to shoot it, so I just went because we were running out of time, just tried to hit a corner,” said Palos Verdes’ Brian Barez, who scored on a shot from the right side.
But Mira Costa shut them down after that.
It was a quite a different second half for both teams.
“We played better defense toward the end,” Reichardt said. “They had like three opportunities to come back and tie the game and we took away every one of them. That was the difference in the game.”
“We went back to what I think we’re best at—just playing good defense and then hammering out an offense, try to get people open,” he added.
Le and Hudson Carter led Mira Costa with two goals each. Escobedo, Allen and Nahabed each had one.
Palos Verdes was led by Barez, Andrew Burda with two goals each. Watson, Henry Boyle and Anthony D’Ambro also scored.
“We just gave them a lot of easy opportunities,” said Barez of the loss.