The matchup between the county's top two teams lived up to the hype as No. 1 Corona del Mar defeated No. 2 El Toro, 12-11, in the championship game of the South Coast Water Polo Tournament Saturday at Newport Harbor High School.
Neil Hueston's goal with 37 seconds left gave the Sea Kings the victory in what turned out to be a shootout.
"I hated that," Corona del Mar Coach John Vargas said, referring to the high score. "I wanted to see more defense."
Sea King goalkeeper Greg Sawyer made a stop with 12 seconds to play to preserve the victory.
Hueston had a game-high four goals. Three, including the game-winner, came in the fourth quarter to help the Sea Kings overcome a 6-3 deficit.
"He did a good job," Vargas said. "I'm pleased with everybody. We're fortunate and happy, but we still have a long ways to go."
The game was tied, 2-2, at the end of the first quarter, but El Toro jumped to a 6-3 lead, scoring four goals in the second. Brandon Stout had two of his three goals in that quarter.
Corona del Mar regained its composure in the third quarter and scored four goals to trail, 8-7, going into the fourth quarter.
"There was no need to panic," Vargas said. "We knew we had a lot of time left. The only time I panic is if you're down by six with a minute to play."
Corona del Mar's Bill Palda tied the score, 9-9, and Adam McFarland's second goal of the game put the Sea Kings ahead with 3:38 left. After trading goals, El Toro's Brent Stoll tied it, 11-11, 12 seconds before Hueston's game winner.