Bay League co-champion Mira Costa is one win away from returning to the finals for a second consecutive year. If they manage one more victory, they will play for a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 title in boys’ water polo.
They played San Clemente in the semifinals and the winner will play either Palos Verdes or Foothill for the championship on Saturday.
The Mustangs advanced to the semifinals with a tough 8-7 win over Woodbridge in the quarterfinals in Manhattan Beach on Nov. 9.
“They were the No. 3 seed and they had beaten us before,” said Mira Costa head coach Jon Reichardt. “We came up with a great defensive strategy and because of that it allowed us to be a little more relaxed on our offense.”
Jake Carter led Mira Costa with four goals and scored twice in the final period, including the game-winning goal with 2:08 left in the game that gave the Mustangs an 8-6 lead. His earlier goal at 3:11 broke a 6-6 tie.
“It was nerve-racking at the end of the game, but I knew what I had to do,” Carter said. “It was a clutch situation and with my teammates help I knew all I had to do was just put the ball in the back of the net. I might have scored the final goal, but overall it was a great team win.”
The Mustangs trailed after the first quarter, 1-0, and at the half, 3-2. They scored three unanswered goals in the fourth period to take control for long enough to escape with the victory.
Besides Carter, Colin Tournat scored twice. Kai Scalet and Ryan Rossow also added goals.
Mira Costa improved to 20-10 overall with the win.
“It took all season but we came together as a team, a family,” said Rossow, who is a senior captain. “Each one of us had each other’s back in the game versus Woodbridge and that’s what won us the game.”
He added, “While our tactical preparation for that game helped us to win-what won us that game was we all played under one fluid mindset; and I can’t wait for to do it again against San Clemente.”
Reichardt said that Mira Costa’s goalie’s “have been playing well and getting better each game.”
The coach expects another tough battle, with the finals within reach.
“San Clemente will be tough but if we continue to play great defense and be patient on offense I feel we will play a great game,” Reichardt said.
Mira Costa also won by a goal in its first-round game against Damien.
“We played a tough Damien team at Citrus College,” Reichardt said. “The game was a back and forth battle and required almost our entire bench for the win. We had a lot of players in foul trouble, Jake Carter had fouled out in the fourth quarter. Everyone played hard and we ended up with the win.”
They did not fold even though they do not have the experience of last year’s team.
“Due to our team being younger we didn’t have as much experience going into CIF as we did last year,” Rossow said. “This caused us to be a bit jittery in the beginning of the game, but we had a hard-fought team win. While we didn’t come out as fast as we would have liked to, we kept fighting and persevered to best Damien and continue our season.”