Boys' Water Polo: Mesa tops Sage

Toward the end of the third period, Costa Mesa High lost its coach. With a four-goal lead, the boys' water polo team didn't need Justin Taylor to stick around on Wednesday.

Tim Postiff, an assistant, took over after Taylor left for a meeting for new teachers. The Mustangs were on their way to staying undefeated in Orange Coast League play.

At home, the Mustangs defeated Sage Hill, 12-7, and improved to 4-0 in league. They pretty much eliminated the Lightning from earning one of the league's three guaranteed berths into the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.

Costa Mesa is returning to the postseason. Before it does, Costa Mesa gets to play for the league title next week at Laguna Beach, ranked No. 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll.

The Mustangs find themselves in a position they were in last year, facing the Breakers for the outright crown in the league finale. Both teams are perfect in league.

Laguna Beach can finish league without a blemish again. The Breakers have claimed the Orange Coast League title every year since its inception seven years ago. Costa Mesa can end the Breakers' run.

"They're very fast," said James Rydjeski, Costa Mesa's goalie. "We're just going to have to stay with them. Their counterattack is ridiculous fast."

The Mustangs showed they're quick on counterattacks.

They seemed to produce most of their goals on the go, with Quinn Smith leading the way with five goals and Raymond Andrade with three goals.

Smith gave Costa Mesa a 2-0 lead midway through the opening period. He scored from about five meters out and then on a backhanded shot from two meters.

However, the Lightning didn't go away in the first half.

Arya Nakhjavani tied the game at 3-3 with 2:55 left before halftime. He scored the first of his two goals after receiving goalie Rachel Jaffe's long pass.

Jaffe made a handful of big saves in the first half, allowing the Lightning to go into the break down, 4-3. What put the Mustangs ahead for good was Andrade's breakaway goal with 1 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

In the third period, the Mustangs got goals from Smith on a five-meter penalty shot, and one goal each from Sagang Wee, Nick Warner and Andrade. Warner and Andrade's shots also beat the 30-second shot clock.

Costa Mesa went into the fourth period ahead, 8-4. Taylor was gone by then. Nevertheless, the Mustangs' lead grew to six, their biggest, when Smith and Warner recorded goals two minutes into the fourth.

Sage Hill's Zachary Drobenko added two of his three goals in the final period, but it wasn't enough to down the Mustangs. Costa Mesa took care of business, while the Lightning fell short.

"This was a must-win [to make the postseason]," said Sage Hill Coach Tom Norton, whose team went into Wednesday tied for third with Saddleback and Godinez at 1-2 in league.

Sage Hill will most likely miss the playoffs again, because it lost to Saddleback, which improved to 2-2 and moved into sole possession of third place with a win against Estancia on Wednesday.

Saddleback closes out league next week against Godinez, which is 1-3 after losing to Laguna Beach on Wednesday. The Lightning finish at Estancia next week.

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