LONG BEACH — With 24 total exclusions called, the game was physical from the start.
Corona del Mar High boys' water polo coach Barry O'Dea expected as much in his team's nonleague game against Long Beach Wilson.
"You play Long Beach in Long Beach, it's going to be a physical game," O'Dea said.
But he was probably hoping his players could handle the adversity just a bit better, after they struggled in the middle of the game and lost, 15-11, on Tuesday afternoon at Belmont Plaza.
Corona del Mar (0-2), ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division II coaches' poll, had trouble getting into its offense. It also suffered numerous defensive breakdowns against Wilson (2-1), ranked No. 2 in Division II.
Frustration set in, both with fouls and also with negative body language. CdM assistant coach Ryan Bailey received a red card in the second quarter, and he was forced to move up to the "cheap seats" above the north goal. The Bruins were in the midst of a run of six straight goals, opening up a 7-2 advantage late in the second when senior Erik Vogalzang got seperation at set and scored one of his game-high four goals.
Two games into the season, the Sea Kings have given up 28 goals.
"I thought Bruce [Bearer] played great in the cage," O'Dea said of his senior keeper who made 10 saves. "We're just not there on defense right now. We're not getting the job done … They're a very physical defense. They stole the ball from us a lot on the perimeter, and they were getting their scoring opportunities off those steals. We just have to be better.
"We have to be better with our positioning. People aren't moving, people aren't running their rotations."
CdM was called for 13 exclusions, and Wilson converted seven of those power plays. The Sea Kings were six for 11 on the man advantage, but scored just two goals over a 13-plus minute span extending midway into the third quarter.
The Sea Kings got no closer than four goals the rest of the way. Seniors Hayden Leach and Chase Watson each scored three times to lead CdM, and Ari Marks scored twice.
"Not everyone was together," Leach said. "We're working on that … We were expecting a physical game, but not everyone could handle it, I guess."
Wilson Coach Tony Martinho has positioned his Bruins as one of the Division II favorites. He said he was happy with his team's counterattack against a team like CdM, for which he has a lot of respect.
"We knew we were going to have a challenge today," Martinho said. "We've played CdM every year since I played at Wilson, from 1979-82. We've got a longstanding thing going on. They're always one of the top programs in Orange County. We like to keep them on our schedule. Anytime you notch a win over CdM, it's a good game for us."
Both teams are playing in the South Coast Tournament, beginning Thursday. One team that won't be there is the top-ranked team in Division II, Murrieta Valley.
O'Dea said he wanted to schedule a nonleague game against Murrieta Valley, but there was no room on the schedule because the Pacific Coast League decided to have teams play each other twice this year.
"Murrieta Valley is good," O'Dea said. "We battled them a lot this summer. I know how good they are. Right now, we've got a lot of work to do."
Long Beach Wilson 15,
Corona del Mar 11
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM 2 – 2 – 4 – 3 — 11
Wilson 4 – 4 – 5 – 2 — 15
CdM – Leach 3, Watson 3, Marks 2, Robertson 1, Havercroft 1, Ramsey 1. Saves – Bearer 10.
W – Vogalzang 4, Martinho 3, Smith 3, D'Sa 2, Kimbell 2, Irving 1. Saves – LeBeau 5.