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La Cañada High boys' water polo dealt setback in CIF standing in Mira Costa loss

Water polo: Spartans' offense goes three of 10 in six-on-five chances in a 12-6 loss to Mira Costa on Saturday.

October 12, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

MANHATTAN BEACH — With all the postseason implications, it made sense there was a playoff feel to a La Cañada and Mira Costa high boys' water polo matchup Saturday.

Playoff positioning was on the line when two of the top three teams in CIF Southern Section Division III met at Mira Costa. For the third-ranked Spartans, there was a chance to take back the No. 2 seat it held in the preseason division rankings with a win over the Mustangs, the current No. 2 team.

Plenty of chances were there for La Cañada, but three-goal outbursts from a pair of Mira Costa players and an inability to cash in on its man advantage proved the difference in the Mustangs’ 12-6 win.

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In total, the Spartans shot 30 percent (three of-10) on six-on-five opportunities. Four of their goals came on man-advantages, as Matt Olson capped the scoring on a six-on-four tally with 22 seconds left in the game.

“We need to put away our six-on-fives to win games,” said first-year La Cañada Coach Christian Flores, whose team fell to 10-5. “We need to play smarter, a little more team chemistry. It’s very frustrating when we’re doing so much work at practice and we can’t put it out there on game day. Our stats should be up there, we should be putting these points up, we should be tight with these high-caliber teams and we’re not.”

Offensively, it was a three-man show for La Cañada. Olson was one of three players to score a goal, as he finished with a pair of goals, along with Leo Neat and Peter Loakes.

“I think we’re just scared to shoot. We don’t take opportunities that we should because we’re scared that our team’s not going to cover for us, that’s where chemistry comes in,” Flores said. “I think we lack team chemistry, just that bonding, that closeness. Over time you gain that but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Mira Costa's offense was anchored by Austin Norris and Ed Jeon, who both shared game-high honors in goals scored with three each.

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