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Spartans wrap up league against South Pas

Water polo: La Cañada rises to occasion and drops South Pas, 13-5, for second straight league title.

November 01, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

SOUTH PASADENA — Whenever the La Cañada and South Pasadena high boys' water polo teams meet up, both squads prepare for their biggest test of the Rio Hondo League season.

"South Pasadena always comes with a big crowd and it's always a contentious game, no matter what," La Cañada's two-meter Bryce Hopkins said of the rivalry. "It's their home court and it's always competitive."

Put a league title on the line, like it was when the Spartans traveled to South Pasadena Tuesday, and the pressure mounts.

After a slow start, La Cañada was able to put all that out of mind and run away with a 13-5 victory for its second straight league title. South Pasadena clinched second place in league. A victory over La Cañada would have given the Tigers at least a share of the league title, and possibly all of it if the Spartans fell to San Marino Thursday in a major upset.

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"We started off the way we did last time against South Pas, really slow," La Cañada Coach Steve Neville said. "Both teams are playing for a league championship and we're at South Pas. Emotions are high and you never know how they're going to start a game like this."

Defense was a game changer for La Cañada (19-6, 7-0 in league), ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division III, as it converted seven of South Pasadena's 15 turnovers into goals. The Tigers (16-11, 5-2 in league), ranked ninth in Division III, scored off one of the 10 turnovers committed by the Spartans.

Down a man, La Cañada's defense still found a way to keep South Pasadena out of the cage, as the Tigers only scored on one of their seven six-on-five opportunities.

"We just didn't put our six-on-fives away, bottom line," South Pasadena Coach Robert Echeverria. "We had like seven or eight ejections and we scored on one. We put those away and it's a different ball game."

Peter Loakes was a big part of La Cañada's defense and offense Tuesday, grabbing two steals and scoring two goals in the game.

"That's hard to do [not give up goals on six-on-fives]," Loakes said. "We stopped everyone of them except for one, I feel pretty good about that."

Echeverria said his offense just wasn't clicking Tuesday.

"Our offense wasn't putting the ball away," he said. "If you get that many ejections your defense wasn't very good. …With that many ejections you should win the game, but we didn't. They were just the better team today."

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