It wasn't pretty, but Diggy Riley will take it.
The Edison boys' water polo coach was frustrated — and his expression showed it — as he watched his Chargers flutter away several first-half opportunities during Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 wild-card game against visiting Buena.
Riley, however, was pleased with his team's second-half performance, which pushed the Chargers to a 9-6 victory at Golden West College and into a first-round match against top-seed Mater Dei on Wednesday.
Edison outscored Buena, 6-3, in the second half to record its first postseason victory since 2002.
The Chargers also were making their first playoff appearance in two years and hosting their first home game since 2002.
Both the Chargers and Bulldogs were at-large entries into the Division 1 playoffs.
"An ugly CIF win is still a CIF win," Riley said. "We missed a lot of opportunities in that first half, which was frustrating. We could have had a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, but didn't convert on several occasions.
"Still we did a real nice job defensively in the second half. We gave up a couple of weird goals and offensively, we opened things up after we had been clogged up a bit. A big key in the second half was the kick outs we had."
Buena rallied from a 2-1 first-quarter deficit to go up, 3-2, in the second quarter before Edison's Kyle Spreeman scored to tie the score at 3 at the half. The score remained tied through the first 4:34 of the third quarter, until Edison's Brent Bazzell broke the tie for good when he skipped a shot into goal with Edison holding a 6-on-5 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, a great save by Edison goalie John Mroch led to a score by Tony Morelli that gave the Chargers a 7-4 advantage.
Mroch had a tremendous performance in goal for Edison. He had three saves in each of the third and fourth quarter and finished with 12 saves.
"He's phenomenal," Riley said of Mroch. "He's the reason we're sitting where we are right now."
In a Sunset League finale Nov. 3, Edison scored a 5-3 victory against rival Fountain Valley at Newport Harbor High. The win qualified Edison for CIF.
"We set a team goal at the beginning of the season to qualify for CIF in Division 1, which we knew was going to be a major challenge and required us to play as a team and work harder than ever before," said Riley, who improved to 8-1 against Fountain Valley as head coach. "The Sunset League has three of the top teams in the county in Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach, so the theme of the season was that we needed to have a .500 win-loss record to qualify and make sure we finished at least fourth in league.
In addition to Edison playing at Mater Dei, Huntington Beach (Sunset No. 3) played at Santa Barbara (Channel League No. 2) in another first-round Division 1 game Wednesday. Golden West League runner-up Ocean View opens Division 7 play today at Mt. Baldy League champion Don Lugo.
The scores from the Edison, Huntington Beach and Ocean View games weren't available at press time.
In the opening round of the Division 1-AA playoffs, Sunset League teams Edison and Huntington Beach picked up first-round victories Tuesday.
Edison, the No. 3 team out of the Sunset League and the division's sixth-ranked team, swept visiting Flintridge Sacred Heart (Mission League No. 2), 25-15, 25-20, 25-22. The Chargers advanced to a second-round match today and will host Marmonte League champ Thousand Oaks, which swept El Toro (South Coast League at-large), 25-13, 25-14, 25-11.
Cassie Strickland led Edison with 11 kills and added two aces and one block and six digs. Avae' Masaniai had eight kills and two aces, Allie Cook had seven kills, two aces and six digs, Megan Reza had six kills and three blocks, Delaney McCraney had four kills and four digs and Morgan Pautsch had three kils and one block.
"We passed well in serve receive and sided out efficiently," Edison Coach Trent Jackson said. "We did a good job of not giving up points in runs."
Huntington, an at-large entry from the Sunset League, went on the road and battled back from a 2-1 deficit to down eighth-ranked and Trinity League champion Santa Margarita in a thrilling match, 19-25, 25-18, 29-31, 25-22, 15-5. The Oilers host a second-round match today against Channel League champ Dos Pueblos, which swept Palos Verdes (Bay League at-large) Tuesday, 25-21, 25-18, 25-21.
In a Division 4AA first-round match Tuesday, Rebecca Rudd had 10 kills and Randi Braak nine kills to lead host Brethren Christian to a 25-17, 25-15, 25-17 sweep of Buckley. The Warriors travel to Riverside today to face Sunkist League winner Patriot, which had a first-round bye.
Also in Division 4AA, Golden West League champion Ocean View, which had a first-round bye, is home to Colony (Mt. Baldy League No. 2). The Titans won their first-round contest Tuesday, defeating Jurupa Valley (Sunkist League No. 3), 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22.
The Los Angeles Field Hockey Assn. Tournament of Champions title game played Nov. 3 again came down to a showdown between Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor.
As was the case a year ago, it was the Sailors who got the best of the host Oilers, this time by a 2-0 score at Sheue Stadium.
The Sailors, who have won three straight titles, took a 1-0 lead when Taylor Cordeiro scored off an assist from Jane Layton at the 14:57 mark of the first period. Sophie Evans scored off an assist from Beth Barnard with 22:30 left on the clock.
Brittney Cristini had three saves for the Oilers and Sydney King had nine saves for the Sailors.
Newport got off nine shots on goal to Huntington's four.
Last year, Newport Harbor won the crown by a 1-0 score over the Oilers.
The teams have played in the last four championship games, with Huntington winning the title in 2007.
"It's disappointing, obviously, to lose in the finals again, but we just have to look back and focus on the positive things that have happened to this team," Huntington Coach Cathy Van Doornum said. "We've won the Sunset League four years in a row, have won the Orange County Invitational championship four straight years and have made it to the championship game four straight years and have won one title."
Huntington shared this year's Sunset and Orange County Tournament of Champions titles with Newport Harbor.
"We have eight seniors on this team and it was a really good group that was athletic and had great chemistry," Van Doornum said. " I knew they'd be good, and they were. They continued the winning tradition that had been established in the program and have left it for the next group of girls to continue."
The Oilers advanced to the championship final by defeating a tough Glendora squad, 4-0, in a semifinal game Nov. 2 at Sheue Stadium.
Jessica Van Arsdale scored twice and Abby Masters and Corinne Clegg each scored once. Van Arsdale, Ashlyn Pooler, Kayla Wigney and Brooke Berns had assists for the Oilers.
Berns, a senior center mid-fielder, was named co-MVP along with Newport Harbor senior Stephanie Storch of the Sunset League. Clegg, Van Arsdale, Pooler, Wigney, Lettie Guerrro and Lindsey Walter all made first-team all-league.