Dos Pueblos senior water polo standout Taylor Gustason called the play a “Hail Mary.”
Dos Pueblos coach Connor Levoff said the final moment was as exciting as they come.
San Marcos coach Jeff Ashton said it was a shame and an awful way to lose.
Dos Pueblos pulled off a miraculous 14-13 victory at the San Marcos pool on Thursday, with Gustason tipping in a long pass from mid-pool by goalie Ben Cable with .2 seconds remaining in regulation time on the scoreboard clock for the game winner.
The stunning finish came on a restart after Trevor Ricci tied the score for San Marcos with less than a second remaining.
“It’s a lot like a Hail Mary in football — heave it up and try to touch the ball,” the 6-foot-4 Gustaston said of the final play. “Like in football, you pull it down, except (in water polo) you tip it into the cage. And that’s exactly what we did. It was a prayer, a Hail Mary and it paid off for us. I got that tip into the cage.”
The stunning and controversial conclusion leaves Dos Pueblos at 2-1 in Channel League and San Marcos at 0-2.
Ashton couldn’t understand how Dos Pueblos was able pull off the amazing play with such little time left on the clock.
“It was .2 that was on there. I don’t know how the ball travels from half court to 2 meters and then gets tipped and .2 seconds hasn’t gone by yet,” he said.
Levoff admitted he was surprised the Chargers were able to get it done.
“Very much so,” he said. “That’s a judgment call on the official’s part and they get to make that decision.”
Ashton said he didn’t defend the passer because there was so little time for DP to do anything.
“It would have been easy to have two guys pressing the guy with the ball. Again, with .2 seconds left, I just don’t know how it’s physically possible for the ball to travel 13 meters then get hit and .2 seconds hasn’t expired. In the NBA, .4 seconds is the max to even catch and shoot.”
Ashton explained that the ball on the restart had to be touched by another player in order for it to be legal. “I was not worried about the tip because there’s .2 seconds. How does the ball go from half pool to the goal-line? The clock should have been expired.”
Dylan Elliott, who scored a game-high five goals for DP, said, “It was a ridiculous tip by Taylor. He’s so close to the goal that once he gets that tip .2 seconds is all you need.”
Levoff said it was a designed play. “That’s exactly what we said: ‘Cable, shoot it as hard as you can at Goose’s hand and Goose wrist flick it in.’ And it worked.”
The shocking finish spoiled an incredible comeback by San Marcos in the final minutes. The Royals went down 13-10 after Ethan Parrish of DP scored from long range with 2:46 left.
The Chargers tried to kill the clock, but Spencer Wood stole the ball and fed Jesse Morrison for a goal to make it 13-11 with 1:46 to go.
“I think we got way too conservative at the end when we went plus-3,” said Levoff.
The score went to 13-12 after Wood scored from long range with 34 seconds remaining.
Dos Pueblos continued to waste time and gave up possession by throwing the ball into the corner as the 30-second shot clock ran out. The game clock ran out too, but the officials restored 4 seconds. San Marcos goalie Ben Spiewak threw the ball to Trevor Ricci and the sophomore fired a shot past the DP goalie for the tying goal.
“They’re a good team,” said Elliott of San Marcos. “They’re capable of anything, especially in this pool. There’s not much distance (from goal to goal) to come back and get a couple of buckets quickly.”
Ricci had two goals for the Royals. Miles Cole led the team with 4, Wood had 3 and Morrison and Fuller added 2 apiece.
“I thought that was a bright spot for Trevor to step up and hit that shot. He played well,” said Ashton.
Dos Pueblos also got big goals from its young role players. Matt Binkley scored twice, including a fourth-period shot that tied the score at 10. Wyatt Meckelborg scored on a skip shot to give the Chargers a 12-10 lead with 3:11 left in the period.
“We’ve been pushing our other guys to step up and develop into scorers,” Levoff said. “Wyatt and Matt, as a junior and a sophomore, really rose to the occasion and buried shots when we needed them. That’s a big difference in a game like that.”
Parrish had four goals and Gustason two for the Chargers.
The teams went back and fourth with the lead throughout the contest, and there were 10 ties.
The Dos Pueblos seniors said it was their first win at San Marcos since their freshman year.
“It was kind of a sweet victory; the last time I’ll play San Marcos in this pool,” said Elliott.
Ashton showed class in defeat.
“It was a shame; it was an awful way to lose but I think the reality is there’s a million of those moments in that game. They’re seconds everywhere where we could have been better and should have been better and should have played better. It’s disappointing. It’s a hard way to lose.”