NEWPORT BEACH — The trip to Newport Harbor High on Friday morning for the Dos Pueblos boys' water polo team was another long one.
The Chargers traveled 149 miles from Goleta and made it down the coast in a little over three hours. They traveled down this path to Orange County the past two seasons.
Each time the return home seemed longer. Losing in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs can make it seem that way.
One of the players who was on that bus for the third straight year made sure the road trip was worth it this time for Dos Pueblos.
Kevin Cappon was not going home with another quarterfinal loss, not with a bunch of seniors on the bus. The party started in the pool before they rode away.
Cappon scored midway through the final period and his goal proved to be the difference as Dos Pueblos upset the fourth-seeded Sailors, 9-8, in a Division I quarterfinal. Cappon's lone goal ended Newport Harbor's season on a disappointing note.
The Sailors, who faced adversity all year after having to forfeit their Sunset League title and section runner-up finish from last year and then seeing their coach, Jason Lynch, get suspended for two weeks this season for playing with an ineligible player, found themselves in a difficult spot at the start against the Chargers (25-4).
Newport Harbor fell behind the Channel League champions by five goals in the first 7 minutes, 32 seconds. Lynch said the Chargers' fast start rattled his team a little bit.
The Sailors (22-5) fought back, cutting the deficit to two goals at halftime. They tied it right before the third period on a power-play goal by Farrel South and then took their first lead.
Andrew Duhoux's third goal of the match put the Sailors ahead, 8-7, after putting away a pass from Ryan Fowler at the 5:41 mark in the fourth.
"We had them on the ropes," said Lynch after seeing his Sailors go on a 7-1 run, which began in the second period.
The Sailors' lead did not hold up.
Thirty-nine seconds after falling behind, Dos Pueblos capitalized on an errant Newport Harbor pass back to goalie Chris Whitelegge. Dos Pueblos' Jared Rassler picked up the loose ball and quickly tied the game at 8-8.
The Sailors had their chances to tie the game, but they missed on a power-play opportunity with 4:10 left to play.
Whitelegge kept it close by making several stops, including on a lob by Chase Racich, which came on a breakaway. Whitelegge was also able to stonewall Cappon 83 seconds into the fourth period on a five-meter penalty shot.
When Cappon faced the goalie again in the fourth, he attacked from the left side and finished. Cappon broke a tie and with 3:21 left. He lifted a fist, believing the Chargers were on their way to the semifinals.
Newport Harbor's last opportunity came with 27 seconds remaining.
With the ball, Newport Harbor's best shot was a backhanded one that skipped out of the water and out of play. The game was over as the Chargers took possession with four seconds left.
Derek Shoemaker, who scored three goals, threw the ball up as high as he possibly could.
"I think it comes down to just revenge," said Cappon, whose team avenged a 7-4 loss to Newport Harbor at the South Coast Tournament in September. "We traveled a long way and that's a lot of time [on the road] to lose in the quarterfinals."