ARCADIA — It was anybody's guess which Flintridge Prep boys' water polo team would show up in the second half of Wednesday's nonleague season opener at Arcadia — the one that was shut out on just two attempts in the first quarter or the one that took control of the match by converting five of six shots in the second.
The answer turned out to be both, as the Rebels nearly went the entire third period without a goal, then fortified their lead with a surge to begin the fourth, which would prove crucial when the Apaches took over late in the final period.
But a run of four unanswered goals could only get Arcadia within two goals in the end, as Prep held on for an up-and-down 8-6 victory.
"It was really important," Prep's Diego Delgado (three goals) said of the early fourth-quarter scoring that saw Carlo Sivilotti and Jamie Walker score back-to-back goals in the first two minutes of the period to push Prep's lead to its highest at 8-2. "At the end of the third quarter they had the momentum, so we had to fight back and prove that our hard work paid off in the end. ...They put up a good fight, but it didn't turn out to be enough for them."
Prep did struggle in the third period, as it was kept off the scoreboard until Delgado's goal on a counter-attack with 48 seconds left. But strong defense, led by three saves from Brian Kihn (seven overall) limited the Apaches to just one goal of their own while stopping four other shots on frame.
With its four-goal halftime lead intact heading into the fourth, the Rebels seemed to have all but put the game away when they went up, 8-2, but that was before Arcadia's Kevin Fry put a scare into Prep with a one-man scoring show. Fry, who had all but one of his team's six goals, scored from straightaway with 4:50 to play and followed that up with a score on a fastbreak two minutes later. He would score twice more in the next two minutes, with the last coming on a turnaround with 59 seconds left.
"I was impressed," said first-year Arcadia Coach Ara Oganesyan, who coached boys' and girls' water polo at Hoover from 2008-10, of the Apaches' comeback attempt in the fourth. "I can't complain for a group of guys that keep their heads up and keep fighting. I was very proud."
Prep rebounded from a lackluster first quarter and 1-0 deficit with a strong second period, in which Delgado scored two of the last three goals on a counter and a lob from the left side before assisting on Street's tally with 1:25 to go that put Prep up, 5-1, at halftime.
"It was a little up and down, I don't want to have many games like this," Prep Coach Dan Hare said. "I think in the first game of the year with some jitters, the first day of school, there's a lot going on today. At the end of it, I'm just glad we had that second quarter and I think the fourth quarter spoke volumes, too, in the sense we were able to go deep on our bench and everybody got in.
"We're still a relatively young team. [We've only got] two seniors, one senior starter and we have eight juniors and some freshmen playing today."