Sea Kings cruise

RIVERSIDE — When Chase is scoring goals, the Corona del Mar High boys' water polo team likes its chances.

When the Chase in question is sophomore Reid Chase, the Sea Kings are even more pleased.

For the second straight CIF Southern Section Division II playoff match, CdM had the opportunity to put in its reserves and call-ups Saturday. The Sea Kings cruised into the semifinals after posting a 19-6 victory at Riverside King.

No. 2-seeded CdM (21-8) will play No. 3 Foothill (21-8) in a Division II semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Irvine High. Foothill beat Montebello, 16-9, in another quarterfinal Saturday.

Reid Chase scored again against King, like he did in the first round against El Modena. The Chase usually associated with CdM's varsity, senior Chase Watson, did fine as well, scoring four goals. That tied for the game-high with fellow senior Hayden Leach, who also had four steals.

"We're taking steps," CdM Coach Barry O'Dea said. "In the last two weeks, our practice has been all about defense. We knew that was an area that we had to really get better in, if we wanted to be competitive in the playoffs. We're doing that now. Our defense has come alive, and the guys are doing a much better job with their awareness and everything else. They're executing really well."

The Sea Kings didn't take too much time getting started. They drew a King exclusion right off the opening sprint. Twenty-seven seconds into the game, and senior Will Havercroft had already scored a power-play goal on fellow senior Evan Ramsey's pass.

It didn't get easier for the hosts, who trailed, 9-2, after the first quarter. Corona del Mar had nine steals in that opening quarter, and Havercroft and Leach already had the trifecta with three goals each.

The Sea Kings, who have been practicing with a 30-meter long playing area lately, countered well and finished with 24 steals. Leach led the way with five.

"We're feeling pretty fast," Watson said. "A lot of teams, at the end of the regular season they have their rivalry games. We just had to close out league against Beckman. We've had a lot of time to get prepared."

Ben Zepfel and Ramsey had two goals each and senior goalie Bruce Bearer made nine saves for CdM, which has outscored its first two playoff opponents by a combined 39-13.

Wolves Coach Kevin Rosa said King, which finished second in the Big VII League, was making its first CIF quarterfinal appearance in his five years as coach. His team wasn't helped when its main two-meter defender, senior captain Taylor Smith, picked up two exclusions in the first quarter.

King's other captain, senior Aaron Soto, led the Wolves with three goals.

"They had big, strong guys in our face," Rosa said. "They're going to apply that pressure. We unfortunately don't play enough teams that give that kind of pressure."

Senior lefties Miles Carpenter and Chris Robertson, as well as center Emery Molnar, each added a goal for CdM. Junior goalie A.J. Santa Maria played an active fourth quarter and ended up with three saves and two steals.

Reid Chase scored his goal in the waning seconds of the third, when O'Dea put in a lineup of sophomores Chase, Kyle Trush, Jake Wyatt, Colby Watson and Jack Harryman. These were some of the talented frosh-soph players who captured the Gray Lunde tournament two weeks ago, beating Newport Harbor in the final.

But playing time in the semifinals might be reserved for the starters. Foothill is the team that beat CdM, 13-12, in the Sea Kings' season opener on Sept. 17. Havercroft said he doesn't take much stock in that result, as CdM has improved so much and become a real team over the past two months.

O'Dea agreed.

"The playoffs is always a different animal," he said. "It's about having a team that's ready to come out and execute. Our guys have something to prove, not only with our game with them earlier this year. We had a poor first quarter in the [Division I] semis last year [against Newport Harbor] and that's still in their mind. They've got something they've got to prove, and they're fired up for it. They're looking forward to the challenge."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World