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Defense leads La Canada water polo to title match

La Canada Spartans, keyed by Jeff Lee's 16 saves, advance to Saturday's DIII final after 11-8 win.

November 14, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • La Canada's goalie Jeff Lee makes a big stop in second half of the CIF DIII semi-final match against Palos Verdes.
La Canada's goalie Jeff Lee makes a big stop in second… (Don Leach/Staff…)

IRVINE — With its offense having become a hopeless cause by the fourth quarter, defense became the saving grace for the La Cañada High boys’ water polo team in its CIF Southern Section Division III semifinal match against Palos Verdes on Wednesday at William J. Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

The top-seeded Spartans took a three-goal lead into the fourth after leading by more than twice as much at one point, and only scored once in the final period, after doing the same in the third, but held the Sea Kings to just one goal of their own over the final 8:39 to hang on for an 11-8 win.

“We played great defense today, all around it was a full team effort on all fronts,” said La Cañada Coach Devon Borisoff, who got 16 saves from goalkeeper Jeff Lee, as well as four goals apiece from Symeon Stefan and Alden Geller. “Jeff Lee had a great game in the cage for us, which we definitely needed. We watched a lot of videos on these guys all week, we prepared for it, we knew what we were going to do and we prepared to stop it and we did a great job of doing so.”

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La Cañada will play Martin Luther King in the championship match on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. at the same venue.

“This is what we’ve been working for the last five or six years,” Stefan said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

The fourth quarter remained scoreless for nearly the first four minutes, as both teams came up empty on several opportunities. Tyler Megginson misfired on a man-advantage opportunity early in the quarter for Palos Verdes, while La Cañada’s Johnny Louk had his one-on-none breakaway shot stopped by Sea Kings goalkeeper Kyle Buch (10 saves) before teammate Bryce Hopkins hit the cage on a man-advantage opportunity with 3:16 left.

Palos Verdes (23-6) broke the stalemate on a counter-attack off Hopkins’ miss, as Megginson took the ball himself all the way up the right side for a transition goal that cut the lead to 10-8 with 3:10 left.

The Sea Kings would be forced to shoot from distance against the shot clock on the their next possession, the second time in their last three trips down that the Spartans would deny them an opening to shoot for 30 seconds. La Cañada (20-8) responded by getting a crucial insurance goal from Hopkins, his second tally of the match, with 1:13 left.

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