CdM chases crown

IRVINE — Reid Chase is one of the steals leaders for the Corona del Mar High boys' water polo team.

Chase, a junior, had four more thefts in the Sea Kings' S&R Sport Cup tournament quarterfinal against Long Beach Wilson on Friday.

He scored just one goal, but it was the one that made sure Wilson wouldn't steal one from CdM.

Chase scored on a post-up from about five meters with 56 seconds left in the second overtime, helping the Sea Kings prevail, 11-10, in the wild game at Woollett Aquatics Center.

Corona del Mar (10-2) plays Coronado in a tournament semifinal Saturday at 1:15 p.m. at Woollett. Newport Harbor and Los Alamitos play in the other semifinal; the championship game is scheduled for 5:35 p.m.

The Sea Kings still have a chance to make it there after Chase's deciding goal. Coach Barry O'Dea said he brought him in to post up since Wilson's strong set defender, Jackson Kimbell, was guarding CdM's leading scorer Ben Zepfel.

"We had an opportunity to bring Reid in on a post-up, which was effective for us early in the game," O'Dea said. "It worked out for us again there at the end. That was a good shot from him."

The Sea Kings, the top-ranked defending CIF Southern Section Division II champions, beat Wilson (No. 3 in Division II) for the second time this year. It almost didn't happen after they blew an 8-5 lead headed into the fourth quarter, and a 9-7 lead with a minute to go in regulation.

But CdM never trailed the game, which was played with regulation rules of two three-minute overtime periods. Senior Wesley Sherburne scored his only goal of the game with 2:37 left in the first overtime, giving the Sea Kings a 10-9 lead.

Wilson earned a penalty shot with 1:16 left in the second overtime. Kimbell scored it to tie the score again, before Chase scored on the Sea Kings' next possession.

Corona del Mar then survived a Long Beach Wilson power play on a save from senior goalie A.J. Santa Maria (11 saves), and ran the clock out.

"I think our guys are confident now," said O'Dea, whose team avoided the slow start that has plagued the Sea Kings early in the season. "That's No. 1 versus No. 3 [in Division II]. That's a huge game for both of us. That's got playoff implications. It doesn't matter who else we've played or what the matchups are or anything else. That's Long Beach-CdM — it's always going to be a high-intensity game. We're just going to keep preaching about maintaining, and keep getting better. I think that was a step toward improvement for us today."

Senior Charlie Howarth scored a game-high four goals for CdM, two of them on penalty shots. Zepfel had three goals, and Jake Wyatt scored twice.

Ari Marks had three steals for CdM, and Colby Watson had two assists.

In its tournament opener CdM was tested before rallying past Clovis West, 12-9. Zepfel carried the load with six goals.

"We had our typical first quarter," O'Dea said, smiling. "We were down 4-1 … [but] we won it. We did what we needed to do. I told the guys I'm not going to linger on it, and I don't want you guys to linger on it. We're going to move on to the next game. They did that and we played better, so it was good."

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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