HUNTINGTON BEACH -There was a slightly different feel to Wednesday’s boys’ water polo matchup between Huntington Beach and Ventura, than the one the two teams played just five days ago. In the grand scheme of things, however, the end result was the same: the Oilers handled the Cougars.
Fifth-seeded Huntington is moving on in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs after handing visiting Ventura a 13-7 defeat. The Oilers move on to face fourth-seeded Loyola Saturday. Huntington Coach Brian Anderson said after Wednesday’s win that Saturday’s quarterfinal match will be hosted by Loyola but that a pool site has yet to be determined.
Loyola, champion of the Mission League, eliminated Santa Margarita (Trinity No. 3) Wednesday, 13-8.
The Oilers advanced after leading the Cougars from start to finish, although the final score wasn’t as lopsided as their 18-4 romp in a regular-season finale for both teams played last Friday in the same pool.
“I told our guys to expect a different gameplan from [Ventura] than the one we saw Friday,” Anderson said. “We were lighting it up, left to right, in that 18-4 win, but we weren’t hitting our shots today. Still, we were in control and we’re moving on. Like I told our guys, it’s now a one-game season and we control our destiny.”
Huntington, the No. 2 team from the Sunset League, never trailed against a Ventura team that finished third in the Channel League despite hitting just one of its first six shots. A power-play goal by John Lovat 92 seconds into the match gave the Oilers the lead for good. Lovat also scored the Oilers’ second goal to make it 2-0, and went on to finish with a game-high five goals.
He scored on back-to-back shots within a 33-second span early in the third quarter to take the Oilers from a 7-3 lead, into a 9-3 advantage.
Lovat scored just once in last Friday’s win over Ventura.
“I thought John played a really good game,” Anderson said. “He really did it on the offensive end and I thought Jameson [Shively] played tough on defense, as always. He’s one of our team captains and he’s a stud out there.”
Huntington went into a 3-1 lead when Jovan Jeremic scored on a penalty shot with 20 seconds left in the opening quarter. A key sequence early in the second quarter extended the lead. Oilers goalie Brandon Lucia came out of the cage to smother the Cougars’ Tim Allen as he set up to shoot. The big stop gave Huntington possession and at the other end of the pool, Ian Arnold sent a shot that bounced straight down off cross-bar and trickled into the net, to put the lead at 4-1 with 4:44 left in the half.
Allen also was denied on a seemingly sure, one-on-one shooting situation on Lucia when the Oilers' Noah Harrison came behind to strip the senior driver as he set to fire into the net. Lucia went on to grab two saves in the final 1:40 of the quarter and Huntington took a 10-3 advantage into the final seven minutes of the game.
Shively, Jeremic and Harrison all scored twice for the Oilers.
In other CIF Division I action Wednesday:
Mater Dei 16, Edison 5
The Monarchs, the division’s top-seed, used a big first half to subdue the Chargers at Mater Dei.
Edison, an at-large entry from the Sunset League, won a wild-card game Tuesday, 17-9 over host Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, to advance to a first-round date with Mater Dei.