Flintridge Prep boys' water polo loses wild overtime thriller to Webb

CLAREMONT — A three-meter shot with nine seconds remaining in overtime hit off the crossbar and directly down, but not forward for a score for the Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo team Saturday afternoon at Webb School.

Consequently, the Rebels took a step back in the Prep League standings after a wild 15-14 defeat in overtime to the host Gauls.

“I don’t think you can ever say anything came down to one shot. You play the game so that it doesn’t come down to one shot and you have to credit Webb,” Rebels Coach Dan Hare said. “You have a team in Webb that didn’t even make CIF last year and had a coaching change and they played very well. We didn’t expect this type of game, but we didn’t roll over ourselves. It was just a good game that ended up going their way.”

With the win, the CIF Southern Section Division V ninth-ranked Gauls (11-9, 3-1) moved into a second-place tie in the Prep League with the No. 8 Rebels (9-8, 3-1), both a game behind league-leading fourth-ranked Poly (14-4, 4-0).

Flintridge Prep’s final possession and last opportunity to force a second overtime period came when Rebels senior Connor O’Malley stripped the ball from Webb’s Mickey Hamel with 38 seconds left in the game and the Rebels down, 15-14.

O’Malley moved the ball to Miles Harber on the western side of the pool and Harber passed to Jamie Walker, who flicked the ball to Ethan Vandeventer, who was five meters from the net with his back turned away from the goal as he fended off Webb’s Spencer Hosch.

Despite tight defense, Vandeventer slipped a pass to senior Alex Blaine, who turned and fired a three-meter shot that ricocheted off the cross and down with nine seconds remaining. Perhaps both sides were in shock as neither team grabbed the ball for a full second as it danced on the goal line, but never fully crossed.

Finally, Gauls goalie Alan Yu (13 saves) snatched the ball and his team wound away the last few seconds of the game without incident.

“Even though this is my first year here, I was aware of how good the Prep League is and that every game is going to be a fight,” Gauls Coach Kevin Hammond said. “This was a big win for us against a very good, physical team and I’m proud of the effort.”

The contest was tied at 13 in overtime when Webb scored the lone goal of the first three-minute session on a five-meter penalty shot from Miles Whener with 1:25 remaining. In the second three-minute session, Webb scored the game-winner on a cross-pool pass from Hosch to Ray Dahlstrom, who scored at the 2:47 mark.

Prep, which committed three turnovers in overtime, didn’t attempt a shot until 2:27 left in the second session and eventually scored with 57 seconds remaining on a goal from Vandeventer off an assist from Blaine with 57 seconds left.

“It’s a tough loss, but this was a great battle. It was physical and the fact that nobody led by two at any point says a lot of the defenses,” said Vandeventer, who led the Rebels with six goals and two steals.

While both teams were physical, the Rebels found themselves called for fouls more often than not as Webb converted seven of 10 six-on-five opportunities and two of three five-meter penalty tries. Those statistics were significantly off the Rebels’ one-for-four day on man advantages and one-for-one effort on penalty shots.

Webb’s last successful man-advantage opportunity came at the 1:51 mark in the fourth when a goal from Hamel just past goalie Alejandro Hirsch Marin (eight saves and two steals) knotted the game at 13. Flintridge Prep previously took the lead, 13-12, on a goal from Vandeventer off an assist again from Blaine.

While the Rebels trailed, 3-2, after one quarter and, 7-6, at halftime, they led for much of the third quarter, with their last advantage of the period coming on a goal from junior Diego Delgado with 42 seconds left in the third as Flintridge Prep went up, 12-11.

Perhaps there was no better symbol of Prep’s reversal of fortune than when Delgado picked up his third ejection call of the game 17 seconds later and earned an expulsion.

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