Flintridge Prep boys' water polo falls to Pasadena in final minute

LA CAÑADA — Throughout most of the season, the Flintridge Prep and Pasadena High boys’ water polo teams have been ranked in the CIF Southern Section Division V poll.

Flintridge Prep Coach Dan Hare had an inkling the two teams would showcase why they have been bestowed with the recognition when the Rebels and Bulldogs met Thursday in a nonleague match.

While Flintridge Prep and Pasadena proved they could play even, it was Pasadena which got the last hurrah, as Matthew Esser scored with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lead visiting Pasadena to a 10-9 victory.

Hare said he wasn’t discouraged that the Rebels (11-9) lost their second one-goal match in less than a week.

“We were a little flat to start the game, but I liked the way we came back and battled,” said Hare, whose team is ranked ninth in the latest division poll. “These are the kind of matches that will get you prepared for the playoffs.

“We’ve had some good matches of late and we know we can bounce back. I have a lot of respect for a team like Pasadena.”

The Rebels turned to reserve goalkeeper Anton Verbinski, who filled in for starting goalkeeper Alex Hirsh Martin. Hirsch Martin was ill, so the Rebels handed Verbinski his first varsity starting assignment.

Verbinski gave the Rebels an opportunity to win, finishing with 13 saves.

“I found out about five minutes before the match that I would be playing,” Verbinski said. “It was a real close game against a real good team.

“We’ll be able to cope with this loss and move on.”

Pasadena, ranked 10th in the division, turned to Esser in the waning seconds.

Esser lobbed a high shot that landed inside the right post. Flintridge Prep had one last chance to tie it, but turned the ball over with six seconds to go. The Bulldogs (16-6) swam out the clock to seal the victory.

Earlier, Flintridge Prep tied it at 8 with 6:05 left in the fourth quarter on a five-meter goal by Ethan Vandeventer (team-high five goals). It grabbed a 9-8 lead on a man-advantage goal by Connor O’Malley with 3:53 remaining before Pasadena received a goal by Matthew Klein with 2:57 to go.

“It’s a one-goal loss to a good team,” said Vandeventer, a reigning All-Area selection. “We were one shot away from tying it and winning it.

“We are proud of the way Anton played in his first game. There’s plenty of good things to take away from here. We’ll watch the film of the game and learn from this.”

The Rebels, who fell, 15-14, in a Prep League match against No. 8 Webb on Saturday before recording a 17-3 league victory against Milken Community on Monday at UCLA, got one goal apiece from Jamie Walker, John Treinen and Diego Delgado.

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