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Spartans shift into semis

Water polo: La Cañada boys ride momentum swing to 9-7 victory over Aliso Niguel Saturday.

November 12, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

PASADENA — There was going to be a huge late shift in momentum for either the La Cañada or Aliso Niguel high boys' water polo teams, as the Wolverines had a breakaway to the Spartans' goal with the game tied in the last 30 seconds of the third quarter.

"I just felt like I needed to stop it," La Cañada goalie Wolfie Paulson said. "If they would have scored there it would have changed the momentum of the game entirely."

Paulson went up to block the shot, which bounced off the right-cross bar and crossed in front of the cage to the left. Both teams battled for the ball, but La Cañada's Symeon Stefan came up with the steal after sprinting back to support Paulson.

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"At first, I panicked because I thought it did go in," Paulson said. "I turned my head as fast as I could and I saw it didn't go in and I was ecstatic."

The Spartans (22-6) controlled the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinal playoff game the rest of the way, pulling out the 9-7 victory at Pasadena City College.

"Defensively, I thought we played very strong," La Cañada Coach Steve Neville said. "Seven goals against a very good team is pretty good. That's right around where we want to be."

La Cañada went on a 4-2 run in the final seven minutes and thirty seconds of the game, as the Spartans' Trevor Roszkos scored in the final 18 seconds of the third, giving his team a 6-5 edge going into the fourth quarter.

"I knew I had to come prepared because it's been our goal all season to at least make the semis," said Roszkos, who had a game-high five goals. "I just had to step up and do it for our guys."

The Wolverines (20-11) tied the game back up at 6 when Andy Santala scored on a five-meter shot with 4:24 to go in the game. Roszkos delivered again, netting his own five-meter shot 20 seconds later for a 7-6 lead. Aliso Niguel leveled the score at 7 when Cory Stock buried a deep shot with 3:48 to go.

La Cañada drew a man-advantage on its next possession and Alden Geller made it count with a goal for a 8-7 lead. Aliso Niguel drew a six-on-five opportunity on its ensuing possession, but came up short when Paulson blocked a shot from Santala, who had a team-high four goals (three coming on five-meter shots).

"We really didn't have an answer for him early on," Neville said. "He was pretty much one-handedly beating us."

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