PREP WATER POLO / SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION I PLAYOFFS : Cornue, Pharris Spark Villa Park to the Finals


Peter Cornue scored six goals and Jon Pharris came up big in the goal as Villa Park beat Long Beach Wilson, 8-6, in a Southern Section Division I water polo semifinal Saturday at Tustin High School.

Wilson, the defending champion and second-seeded team, never led as the third-seeded Spartans (26-4) took the Bruins (23-5) out of their game.

Villa Park’s victory sets up an all-Century League final. The Spartans will play top-seeded Foothill at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Long Beach Belmont Plaza.

Wilson and Villa Park split two previous games, each decided by one goal, this season, so Spartan Coach Jeff Ehrlich was confident of his game plan.


“We felt that if we controlled Adam Wright and held them on their six-on-five chances, we could win,” Ehrlich said.

Villa Park did all that and more, outscoring the Bruins, 3-1, in the third quarter to break a 3-3 halftime tie. Wright, who began the game with 122 goals, was shut out for the first time this season. Villa Park went at Wright with at least five defenders, two of whom received three kickouts and were ejected from the game.

But Wilson, which usually scores on 65% to 70% of its six-on-five opportunities, converted only one of nine.

When the Villa Park defense sprung a leak, goalkeeper Pharris was there to plug the hole. Pharris had 11 saves. Brian Pharris, Jon’s older brother, had a goal and three assists, Kyle Baumgarner had one and Aaron Waldrip played outstanding defense on Wright.

In the other semifinal:

Foothill 6, El Toro 5--El Toro, the only team to hold the Knights under 10 goals in the regular season, did it again and suffered another one-goal loss. The Knights (26-1) reached their first Division I final and first section final since 1981. Fourth-seeded El Toro finished 23-6.

After being shut out in the first half, 3-0, the Chargers cut the lead to 4-3 after the third quarter as Keith Capielo scored two and Shane Maag one. But Robby Arroyo scored from the hole on Foothill’s first possession of the fourth quarter and Brian Brown drew a penalty shot that Arroyo converted for a 6-3 lead with 5 minutes 6 seconds left.