SAN MARINO – Second chances aren’t always positive. Just ask the La Cañada High boys’ water team.
Down by four with less than a minute left, the Spartans were given a rare reprieve when game officials put more than five minutes back on the clock due to score-keeping errors in Tuesday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League opener at San Marino.
The extra time wasn’t a bonus, though, as the CIF Southern Section Division V top-ranked Titans scored five of six goals in the revised fourth quarter for a runaway 17-8 victory over the Division III unranked Spartans in a game that lasted 1 hour and 31 minutes.
The loss snapped a nine-game league winning streak for the defending league champion Spartans (1-8). La Cañada has also lost eight straight contests in a year after the team lost its coach, graduated three of five all-league selections and lost a fourth – freshman sensation George Avakian – to transfer.
Senior goalie Reed Fundter is his team’s lone All-Area and all-league choice back.
“We went from a close [loss] to a big loss, so that sucks,” said Fundter, who finished with 14 saves and four steals. “It’s been a tough season, but I think we can improve. We get back to practice and then we’ll have a game on Thursday and we’ll do our best to improve. That’s all we can do.”
La Cañada began the fourth quarter down, 12-7, but pulled within four on a six-on-four goal from Jack Applebaum off an assist from Colin Nicholls (one goal and two assists).
San Marino’s offense, which was clicking through the first 2 1/2 half quarters, stalled in the fourth after Titans coach Robert Zirovich took his starters out at 3:43 in the third. Zirovich put them back in to begin the fourth, but they were ineffective.
Even so, the Titans’ defense remained stout as the team led, 12-8, with 52 seconds remaining when a double foul was called on San Marino’s Blake Castleman and La Cañada’s Vincent Wardle.
When game officials reviewed the books, it was revealed that both teams had been using players with three exclusions, which should have resulted in ejections.
After a 15-minute delay to correct the error and another 10 minutes to set up the clock and stats, the contest was reset to 6:12 remaining in the game with San Marino leading, 12-7.
“There’s 50 seconds left in the game,” Zirovich said. “Yes, there were mistakes made at the [scorer’s] desk, but there’s a four-goal differential and La Cañada chose to play it out and rewind to the point of the mistake at the desk.”
Perhaps annoyed at the Spartans’ decision, San Marino (9-2) was not passive over the now final 6:12 in the contest.
Though La Cañada closed to within 12-8 on a man-advantage goal from Applebaum (team-high three goals) off an assist from Maxwell Kinsel at 5:46, San Marino countered and closed the game with a 5-0 run while forcing seven Spartans’ turnovers the rest of the way.
“We were just kind of flustered out there just waiting for the game to go on,” said Applebaum of the delay time. “The ref called us over to the bench; we weren’t told what was happening. It was just real weird.”
San Marino’s Dillon Goldsmith and Ethan Lai led all scorers with five goals each.