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Costa Mesa boys’ water polo beats Estancia to clinch first league title since 2004

Costa Mesa High boys’ water polo player Caedmon Fisher is a handful for opposing defenses to deal with.

The left-hander racks up the goals. Even playing in a small pool at Estancia which took away many of his counterattack opportunities, Fisher was a one-man wrecking crew for the Mustangs in Wednesday’s Battle for the Bell game.

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The senior scored 11 goals as the Mustangs beat the Eagles 18-4 in the Orange Coast League showdown, their eighth straight triumph in the rivalry game. The number that mattered to Fisher at the end, though, was one.

Costa Mesa clinched its first league title since winning the Golden West League in 2004. After the Mustangs were handed medals from Costa Mesa United for beating their crosstown rivals, they put on navy blue hats that read “League champions” in white letters.

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“We didn’t put a year on them, just in case,” said Mustangs coach Dustin Serrano, who leads his alma mater with his twin brother, Cody Serrano. “We still want the kids to respect our opponents, no matter how the scores are going … but we wanted to make it a big deal for the kids. Cody and I have been working for that for a while. That’s always been the goal, winning league and beating Laguna [Beach].”

The Serrano twins never beat the Breakers before graduating in 2009. But Laguna Beach left the league this year, opening the door for Costa Mesa (14-5, 4-0 in league). Fisher was not going to miss out on this opportunity.

He’s chasing the team’s single-season goals record. Fisher said he has 146 goals this season after Wednesday’s win. The record is 161 goals, set by Corey Delahunt in 1990.

I was expecting them to put up a good fight. They’ve got some good, young, talented players. I’m proud of our defense, only allowing one goal a quarter ...


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Fisher has the best chance to set the record by leading Costa Mesa, which is ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 3, on a deep playoff run. His younger brother, sophomore Gavin Fisher, scored three goals Wednesday, while fellow sophomore Will Harrington scored twice. Senior Teak Zachary and sophomore center Anderson Todd added one goal each.

Junior goalkeeper Joey Palmblade anchored the Mustangs’ defense with 14 saves.

Costa Mesa High goalkeeper Joey Palmdale defends during the first half of an Orange Coast League match at Estancia on Wednesday.
Costa Mesa High goalkeeper Joey Palmdale defends during the first half of an Orange Coast League match at Estancia on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

As for Caedmon Fisher, he approached his season-best total of 13 goals in a 25-6 win over Yorba Linda on Oct. 10.

“I’m very happy with that game,” Fisher said. “I was expecting them to put up a good fight. They’ve got some good, young, talented players. I’m proud of our defense, only allowing one goal a quarter to them.”

Costa Mesa scored twice in the first two minutes against second-place Estancia (15-11, 3-1), ranked No. 10 in Division 6. The teams are plenty familiar, as several of the Mustangs and Eagles play club water polo together at Costa Mesa Aquatics Club.

Estancia coach Matt Frazier could be satisfied with a 2-0 deficit after the first quarter. A 10-2 halftime deficit would be harder to rally from. The Eagles didn’t get on the scoreboard until sophomore Noah Gniffke — who transferred from Costa Mesa to Estancia this year — struck on a spinning backhand shot off a foul with 3:59 remaining in the first half. The Mustangs already had a 6-0 lead.

Seniors Jake Blinn and Jose Castaneda also scored for the Eagles. Sophomore goalkeeper Griffin Beth made eight saves.

Frazier said the Eagles played well in the first quarter and the third quarter. They were outscored 3-1 in the third.

“The other two quarters, we kind of gave up,” Frazier said. “Caedmon is a great player, but he can’t shoot the ball every single time he gets it. We didn’t help our defenders. We didn’t take the ball away from him; we just let him do whatever he wants. We let their best player beat us by himself, and we didn’t do anything about it.”

Dustin Serrano said his team gained confidence from a close 13-12 nonleague loss to Los Alamitos on Tuesday; the Griffins are a Division 2 team and the Wave League champion. All that is left for the Mustangs is a deep run in Division 3. The section will release the playoff brackets at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Last year, the Mustangs advanced to the second round before losing at Servite.

“If we’re going to go far in CIF, this is the season, for sure,” Zachary said.

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