LA CAÑADA — Colin Nicholls made a minor adjustment.
Mired in a recent shooting slump, the La Cañada High boys’ water polo player looked to refine his powerful right-hand shot while providing a jolt for the Spartans.
Nicholls got the job done, as he scored a team-high four goals Thursday to lift host La Cañada to a 10-6 Rio Hondo League victory against San Marino.
The sophomore attacker scored the first two goals of the contest to ignite La Cañada (6-5, 1-1 in league) before tallying two second-half goals to brush aside San Marino (5-6, 1-1).
“I’d just been trying to find ways to break through this slump I’ve been going through and working on it at practice,” Nicholls said. “I’d been lifting my shots too high and I just wanted to find a way to lower them. It’s all about making that quick tweak.
“I liked the way we came out to play. We watched some film and analyzed things. We scored at the right times and we did a good job of playing pressure defense and blocking shots.
Nicholls opened the scoring with 5:58 left in the first quarter and made it 2-0 with 5:32 to go.
“We definitely wanted to get off to a quick start,” La Cañada second-year coach Gil Millanes said. “We are not a big team; we’re pretty small. But we have a fast-moving team.
“I think we did a very good job at setting up correct plays and being in the correct positions at both ends. It was important to come out strong and stay aggressive the whole way.”
The Spartans, who opened league Tuesday with a 15-7 road loss against South Pasadena, received two goals apiece from Lucas Quion and Jack Applebaum. La Cañada got one goal each from Vince Wardle and Robbie Louk.
Applebaum closed out the first-half scoring with 36 seconds left to give the Spartans a 6-3 lead.
Nicholls scored to give the Spartans a 7-3 advantage with 3:42 to go in the third quarter before wrapping up the scoring with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter.
La Cañada senior goalkeeper Reza Nadaf-Rahrov finished with eight saves, including six in the first half.
The Titans got two goals from Taylor Suetsugu and one each from Charleston Wong, Haroon Elgabalawy, Elijah Carlton and Ethan Mo.
The Spartans converted on two of four man-advantage opportunities, compared to one of five for the Titans.