TEMPLE CITY — There wasn’t much of a celebration on the pool deck shortly after the La Cañada High boys’ water polo team wrapped up the Rio Hondo League championship Thursday.
A few greetings took place, but it’s become the norm of late for the Spartans to rule the league.
La Cañada received four first-half goals from Leo Neat to register a 12-7 road victory against Temple City and clinch the championship outright.
“To win league is always good, but it’s expected for us,” said La Cañada first-year Coach Christian Flores, who saw his team improve to 18-8, 7-0 in league. “It’s been a rough season with some players having injuries, but I told them it’s up to them if we can do some damage in CIF and at least get to the semifinals.
“I don’t like that we gave up seven goals. It’s nice, though, to have Leo at the hole/set because he’s a big deal in our offensive attack because he can open up lanes for the drivers.”
The Spartans, ranked No. 4 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division III poll after advancing to the championship match last season, can claim a fourth straight undefeated league record with a home victory against Monrovia on Tuesday. The Spartans had already claimed at least a share of the league title with two wins over second-place South Pasadena.
Neat, who missed the previous match Tuesday against San Marino because of a sore throat, provided an instant spark for the Spartans against the Rams (3-3 in league). He scored a pair of goals 28 seconds apart late in the first quarter to give the Spartans a 4-1 advantage.
“They were able to get me the ball and we kept on going,” said Neat, who completed the first-half scoring with 31 seconds remaining to give the Spartans a 6-3 lead. “It’s about establishing momentum and building off it.
“It feels good to win league again. It’s an accomplishment. Now, we are shooting for CIF.”
The Spartans got two goals apiece from Justin Moh and Matthew Olson to complete the two-match season series against Temple City. La Cañada got one goal each from Reed Buck, Connor Shankwiler, Benjamin White and Peter Loakes.
The Rams got a team-best three goals from Vincent Sicat.