Los Alamitos High sophomore attacker Gabe Chang admitted to being nervous throughout Wednesday’s Wave League game against Edison.
Then he said that nervousness, if born out of excitement, may not be such a bad thing.
Indeed, the Griffins had every reason to be excited. Los Alamitos had the opportunity to win its first league title in boys’ water polo in nearly a decade, and it did not let the chance slip away.
Chang had a game-high six goals, and the Griffins cruised to a 12-5 victory over the Chargers to clinch the outright Wave League title at Corona del Mar High.
“It’s really nice,” Griffins coach Brent Danna said of winning the league. “It’s been nine years [since Los Alamitos last won a league title]. It’s really satisfying to come out here and be able to finish off Edison for the outright league title.”
Senior Jackson Lawrence had two goals for the Griffins (14-9, 5-0 in league). He created more scoring chances for his team by drawing exclusions against the Chargers (14-13, 3-2) inside of the two-meter zone, and he came away with several steals.
“Jackson definitely has the strongest legs on the team, and he’s got nice long arms out there,” Danna said. “He’s able to hold those guys out and redirect bad passes.”
For his part, Lawrence said that the league title had been a motivating factor since his first days with the Griffins.
“It’s been a really long time for this program,” Lawrence said. “It just feels really good. We came in as freshmen. We wanted to make a change, and here we are, sitting on top.
“It feels really good. It makes all the hard work, the ups and downs, all worth it.”
Daniel Mori, Beckett Millar, Caden Chen and Jack Ryan had one goal apiece for the Griffins.
Los Alamitos jumped to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter, and it extended that lead to 7-1 by halftime.
Chargers coach Sean Little felt that his team’s biggest obstacle was Griffins freshman goalkeeper Otto Nash, who had eight saves in the contest.
“The first possession, they were down one-on-nobody, and [he had] great lateral movement,” Little said of Nash. “Great one-on-one stop. I think that kind of set the tone for them, and he’s a difference-maker.
“I don’t think that turnovers were as big of an issue as our shooters second-guessing themselves and then passing the ball to a spot where maybe they shouldn’t have, because Otto was a force in the cage.”
Cameron Davidson and Marko Ilincic scored the first two goals of the third quarter, cutting the Chargers’ deficit to 7-3. That would be as close as Edison got in the second half, as the Chargers were held scoreless for the next 10 minutes of play.
Ilincic led the Chargers with two goals. Luke Burgard and Quinn Whitmore also scored for the Chargers, and keeper Caden Martin made six stops.
Little had hoped that the Chargers could challenge Los Alamitos for the league title this year.
“The truth of the matter is that we didn’t play our best game in either of the games, and I don’t think they did, either,” Little said. “We had to be on, and we weren’t today.
“Going forward, it’s just about stringing together good possessions, good quarters, good games, and seeing how far that takes us into CIF.”
Edison still controls its own destiny for a berth into the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Marina (5-21, 1-3) was scheduled to face Fountain Valley (4-16, 0-4) on Wednesday night.