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La Canada water polo's title bid stopped

M.L. King trumps La Canada Spartans, 14-9, in Division III final.

November 17, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • With its top scorer and coach both gone from the match, the La Canada Spartans saw a tight finale slip into a one-sided finish.
With its top scorer and coach both gone from the match,… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

IRVINE — In its run to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship, the La Cañada High boys’ water polo team encountered a fair share of slow starts only to come through in the end.

But the finish to the Spartans’ season and Saturday afternoon’s final following a slow start at William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine was just as frustrating as it was disappointing.

With its top scorer and coach both gone from the match, the Spartans saw a tight finale slip into a one-sided finish, as third-seeded Martin Luther King won its first-ever CIF-Southern Section title at the expense of La Cañada claiming its sixth when the Wolves used a five-goal fourth period to pull away with a 14-9 victory.

“They came out harder, they played harder,” said Spartans senior driver Alden Geller, who scored a team-high five goals and was the only Spartan with multiple tallies. “We tried our best.

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“It’s tough, we put our heart into it.”

Down, 9-7, heading into the fourth quarter, La Cañada (23-9), the No. 1 seed, relinquished consecutive goals to third-seeded King (27-6) before Geller was whistled for his third and final ejection. Already down four goals, the ejection accelerated a downward spiral for the Spartans, who gave up a third straight goal on a man-advantage just moments before La Cañada Coach Devon Borisoff received a red card and was ejected from the game.

“It’s disappointing. I thought we played a good enough game to win,” said Borisoff, who drew a yellow card in the second quarter and was issued a red with 5:02 remaining in the match and then vented his frustration by kicking over a plastic guard rail adjacent to the Spartans bench. “I don’t usually talk about refs, but ... I thought she absolutely took us out of the game.

“She threw me out of the game because I said she was horrible. That’s the most ticky-tacky thing I’ve ever been kicked out for. She throws me out of a CIF championship because I said she was horrible.”

Assistant Kristen Dronberger took the lead for the Spartans, who immediately cut the lead to 12-8 on a man-advantage score by senior two-meter Bryce Hopkins off a pass from senior driver Johnny Louk, but it was too late to mount a comeback, especially when King answered with a score just 19 seconds later to bring its lead back to five goals to ultimately seal the win.

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