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Dos Pueblos Falls Short in CIF Water Polo Final, 9-7

La Serna contains Ethan Parrish, scores three goals in fourth period to take Division 3 title

La Serna defenders make it tough for DP’s Matt Binckley to get off a shot during CIF Division 3 water polo final. Click to view larger
La Serna defenders make it tough for DP’s Matt Binckley to get off a shot during CIF Division 3 water polo final. (Ben Bishop photo)

IRVINE — Dos Pueblos came up short in its long road to a CIF-SS boys water polo title. 

The Chargers suffered a 9-7 loss to La Serna in the Division 3 championship game on Saturday at the Woollett Aquatic Center.

Dos Pueblos (25-8) fought back from a 4-0 first-period deficit and tied the score at 6-6 late in the third period. But in the fourth period, La Serna got big saves from goalie Zachary Jenkins and outscored the Chargers 3-1 to win its second CIF title in program history.

Dos Pueblos was seeking its third title and first since 2005.

"Too many turnovers, too many mistakes," DP coach Connor Levoff said. "We talk all the time before games: ‘If you execute, we’ll have success and give ourselves a chance to win. And if you don’t, it’s hard.’ And we didn’t execute."

La Serna's defense held DP's leading scorer Ethan Parrish to just six shots in the game. 

"He shot the ball six times and he’s been scoring six goals a game for us," Levoff said. "He was busy guarding their best guy for the bulk of the game. They did good job of kind of baiting the ball to him and then taking it away.

John Gomez of La Serna tries to keep Jason Teng of Dos Pueblos from getting to the ball. Click to view larger
John Gomez of La Serna tries to keep Jason Teng of Dos Pueblos from getting to the ball. (Peter Neushul photo)

"I thought they keyed on him well. They were super well-prepared and they seemed disciplined and well coached. They got the ball in the back of the net when they got looks and we didn’t."

La Serna coach John Pringle set up his game plan to contain Parrish. He had seniors Brandon Shew and Eric Borunda cover him for most of the game.

"We knew what a weapon he is, how creative, how smart, how athletic he is," Pringle said of the sophomore Parrish. "We got to see him a few times (early in the season). Just seeing him in the semifinal (when scored six goals), knowing he could score from anywhere,  if we don’t respect that, he’s going to beat us by himself. So we knew we had to do everything we can to neutralize him.

“We wanted to see if other guys on their team could step up and beat us.  We took that risk, knowing that if we take (Parrish) out it’s going to be a big factor."

Parrish finished with two goals, as did freshman Sammy Arshadi and junior Kyle Faison coming off the bench. Junior Alex Reilly had one goal.

"Credit to Kyle Faison, he stepped up and scored two goals in the championship," said Levoff.

Alam Chang scored three goals to lead La Serna (26-7), while Steven Casas, Eric Borunda and Patrick Seelhorst each scored two.

Seelhorst fouled out of the game at 5:09 of the third quarter, but La Serna got good play from substitute Travis Wisher.

Parrish tied the score at 6-6 off a nice lob pass from Matt Binckley with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Chargers got a look at a potential go-ahead goal in the fourth period but Jenkins made the save.

Jason Teng tries to score while being pressured by La Serna’s Travis Wisher and goalie Zachary Jenkins late in the fourth period. Click to view larger
Jason Teng tries to score while being pressured by La Serna’s Travis Wisher and goalie Zachary Jenkins late in the fourth period. (Peter Neushul photo)

Chang gave the Lancers a 7-6 lead with 5:06 left in the game and Shew scored from long range to make it 8-6 with 2:39 left.

"It’s been that way all season," Pringle said of the play of his 6-foot-2 senior goalie Jenkins, who made 14 saves. "It’s not unusual for us, he’s done that all season. He's a big presence who’s grown and matured over the years."

Jenkins blocked several rocket shots from Arshadi and made a huge save on Jason Teng in front of the cage in the third period.

Arshadi beat Jenkins from the perimeter with 1:40 to go, pulling the Chargers within one (8-7).

Dos Pueblos had a chance to tie the score after a steal by Teng. The Chargers got the ball inside to Parrish, but Casas hit his arm and knocked the ball loose. Casas recovered, fed the ball to his goalie, raced down the pool and scored at the other end to make it 9-7 with 56 seconds left.

The Lancers deflected shots by Parrish and Teng to close out the game and celebrated their first title under Pringle.

"They did a really good job engaging offensively and occupied a lot of our attention on the defensive end," Levoff said. "To hold them pretty much till the end was pretty good. The middle two quarters we were strong on D. We couldn’t quite get it right (offensively). They made some nice shot blocks and their goalie made a couple of saves. 

"We struggled against their zone — they zoned super hard,” he added. “We didn’t space or shoot well enough. They scored a lot of easy goals and our goals were really tough to manufacture and come by. That’s a pretty good indicator of how the game is going to end, usually."

The Chargers were 1 of 5 on power plays.

“If we’re a little better on the power play, we win that game,” Levoff said. 

Just as they did in their semifinal win against Servite, the Chargers fell behind 4-0 in the first period. 

Parrish ended the drought at the 1:47 mark and Faison came off the bench to make it 4-2 with 41 seconds left.

La Serna's Seelhorst scored his second goal of the period with 10 seconds left to give La Serna a 5-2 lead.

The Chargers held La Serna scoreless in the second period and Faison tallied his second goal off a nice assist from Teng to make it 5-3 at halftime. Dos Pueblos goalie Angus Goodner made two point-blank saves in the second period. He finished the game with 15 stops.

La Serna took a 6-3 lead on a Casas goal before DP went on a three-goal run to knot the score. Reilly made it 6-4, Arshadi finished a fast break after a steal and Parrish tied the score off a lob pass from Binckley. The tying goal came after Goodner brillantly tipped the ball away from La Serna's Trevor Lum on a breakaway.

While the loss was tough, the future looks bright for DP.

"We’re going to be strong looking forward. That's the hope of the program, said Levoff who returns seven players next season.

"We’ll miss our seniors terribly," he said. "They played super roles in and out of the water; they’re really, really a great group of kids. All their collective contributions to our program are just unbelievable. I'm super proud of them as a group."

On the experience of taking a young team to the finals, Levoff said: “It’s really good for us as far as battle testing us. The playoffs are not easy. To get that kind of experience, to get big-game experience, championship-game experience, which, frankly, I don’t think anybody on this team has ever played in a championship game of anything, I think we’re in a good place to move into Division 2 next year — which undoubtedly will happen — and carry ourselves with honor and keep trying to elevate and improve the level of the program.

“I just told them next season starts on Monday, so we’re going to get back to work.”

The Dos Pueblos boys water polo team finished as runners-up in Division 3 of the CIF-Southern Section. Click to view larger
The Dos Pueblos boys water polo team finished as runners-up in Division 3 of the CIF-Southern Section. (Ben Bishop photo)
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