Boys' Water Polo: Mustangs extend reign

The water polo game ended in a football score Wednesday, just before the skies opened up with pouring rain.

Two days before the Battle for the Bell football game, the contest was played in water polo at Costa Mesa's pool.

The Mustangs topped rival Estancia, 20-7, and they wouldn't mind a similar score on Friday night at Jim Scott Stadium.

In water polo, it was a good start to Orange Coast League play for Costa Mesa (7-4). Quinn Smith, a junior, led the way for the Mustangs with seven goals. He helped Mesa win the Bell game in the pool for the third straight year.

Smith was one of three juniors to score multiple goals for the Mustangs, as Raymond Andrade had four and Matt Brown put in three. Senior Sagang Wee also had a hat trick, while junior Trent Teague, sophomore Adrian Palacios and freshman Jacob Peterson added one goal each.

"Quinn's an extremely talented athlete in general, and his skills in water polo have been consistently improving over the last two years," Costa Mesa Coach Justin Taylor said. "He's somebody that we're looking to carry a lot of the offensive load for us throughout the season. I think he's done a great job ... He's had a more defensive role throughout the last couple of years, and he's discovered that he's quite capable of being an offensive weapon.

"The guy can shoot the ball from anywhere in the pool and score. He shoots the lights out of the ball, he shoots extremely hard and he's just done a great job for us this year."

Taylor said his team could be called "offense by committee." Two freshmen contributed Wednesday, as Peterson had the goal and two steals and Nick Warner tallied three assists.

Two players who were missing were juniors Deighton Tachiki-Urias and Nick Lewis, who were both second-team All-Orange Coast League selections last year for the Mustangs but are no longer on the team — or at the school.

Taylor confirmed that they have both transferred to Huntington Beach High. He declined to comment further.

The Mustangs still dominated the Eagles (2-9). They opened up leads of 4-1 after the first quarter and 9-2 at halftime. By then, Smith already had four goals.

"Our team's pretty solid," Smith said. "I think my whole team helped me. We help each other."

Junior James Rydjeski, a first-team all-league and Newport-Mesa Dream Team selection last year, made seven saves for Mesa. None were better than the one in the fourth quarter, when he somehow got the save of an outside shot after it caromed off a field block by Wee.

"That was quite a save," one of the referees said out loud.

Estancia freshman Jason Chesemore got the most shots past Rydjeski, finishing with three goals. Junior Eli Sperling scored twice, drew a five-meter penalty shot and also had a field block. Junior Cody Nelson and freshman Kyle Fitzgerald also scored for the Eagles. Chris DeFrenza, a junior, added a steal for the visitors.

Estancia Coach John Carpenter said his team was missing senior goalkeeper Shawn Lepard (knee tendinitis). Junior Cesar Coto, the Eagles' junior varsity goalie, made five saves in Lepard's absence.

"Mesa's just got too much firepower," Carpenter said. "We can't man-up with them. They played a very good game. We actually didn't play that badly. We did some things well, but their counterattacks [hurt us]. They probably had seven or eight breakaways. They drew a lot of exclusions [10]. Even when we went to a drop defense, they were still getting some of our guys kicked out because they're so quick. Our crash was half-a-second too late."

Carpenter highlighted the play of Chesemore, who proves that the future could be bright at Estancia.

"He is playing really well this year," Carpenter said. "We've been working on getting the quick hole shot, and he's really picked that up. [The Mustangs] have an incredibly good goalie, so to be able to score three on him is really a feat for a freshman."

Both teams will be back at the Mustangs' pool this weekend, competing at the fourth annual Newport Rib Co. Classic. Costa Mesa opens up play at the tournament on Friday at 3 p.m., against Valley High. The Mustangs return to league play Wednesday at Saddleback. Taylor said it would be a tough game, as Saddleback returns most of its team from last year.

"It's a good way to open up league play," Taylor said of beating Estancia. "We know that we have to win two more [league] games to secure a spot in the playoffs. One down, two to go."

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