Coming into the fourth quarter against league-rival South Pasadena High and trailing by four goals, it looked like all hope was lost for the La Cañada High boys' water polo team.
However, looks can be deceiving.
The Spartans rallied in the final seven minutes, shutting out South Pasadena and scoring five unanswered goals to pull out an 11-10 victory Tuesday.
Although things looked bad in the final quarter for the Spartans, Coach German Lopez wasn't worried.
"I thought we were fine, we just weren't putting our shots away," Lopez said. "It's not like they were beating us; we were beating ourselves. Sure enough, the shots started falling in the fourth quarter."
Jack Depew dominated the fourth quarter, notching four of the five goals in the stanza after putting only one in the net the first three quarters.
"[Depew] finally played the way we wanted him to play all year," Lopez said. "He was patient and picked the goalie apart, which is what we wanted him to do all game."
South Pasadena was in control most of the game. Finishing the first quarter up, 5-4, the Tigers scored five goals in the second and third periods while holding the Spartans to two goals in 14 minutes.
These stats are just an after-thought now, considering that the story was really La Cañada's fourth-quarter comeback.
"It's kind of been our MO this whole season," Lopez said. "We are a spark-plug team. For the most part, we have been a second-half team this whole season; that's something we pride ourselves on."
Two adjustments made by the Spartans proved to be the difference. First, Lopez pulled his starting goalkeeper, Reed Shankwiler, and substituted him with Wolfie Paulson just five minutes into the first quarter.
"I thought both of our goalies didn't play too well today," Lopez said. "I don't know if it was the environment or what it was…I was actually about to pull Wolfie, too, because he gave up some quick goals in the third."
Paulson didn't make Lopez regret his decision, coming up with two blocks and a steal in the fourth and keeping the Tigers out of the net to seal the victory.
Ben Youngstrom, in net for the Tigers, was a tough opponent for the Spartans early on. He finished the game with 12 blocks, but Depew noticed five or six of them just happened to hit his body. Depew was able to make the adjustment.
"Before the game, coach told us [Youngstrom] likes to jump to his side," Depew said. "We realized the shots were just hitting his chest and that we just had to aim it — it wasn't really about power."
Depew's precision paid off, as he scored four of his five goals in a five-minute span in the fourth quarter.
"The guys needed someone to step up, so I figured why not me," said Depew, who admitted he came up short against the Tigers last season. "This year was definitely a good way to show that I am a year older and that we're ready to win league this year."