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Mater Dei finds thrill zone as it finally topples Harvard-Westlake
The arms told the story for Mater Dei’s boys water polo team Wednesday night.
From the ones splashed in celebration after goals, to the ones flexed over the pool by Coach Chris Segesman afterward, to the sea of shot blockers that slowed one of the United States’ most promising young players, all those arms lifted the Monarchs back on top.
Mater Dei’s zone defense held U.S. national center Ben Hallock to one shot from 2 meters, and the host Monarchs rode the momentum of a fast start to an 11-10 nonleague victory over Harvard-Westlake of Studio City.
Not only had top-ranked Harvard-Westlake (13-1) defeated Mater Dei (12-1) in the past two CIF-SS Division 1 finals, the Wolverines had won six straight overall against the Monarchs during a 50-match winning streak, which ended Wednesday.
The last of those six losses was a 12-3 defeat last month in the finals of the Santa Barbara tournament.
“We were tired of losing to them,” said Segesman, who bear-hugged his players as they exited the pool. “We've always believed we could beat Harvard-Westlake. ... This is a statement game for us.”
Mater Dei’s Thomas Dunstan, also a rising national team player, put the final touches on the victory by drawing an exclusion with 19 seconds left that allowed the Monarchs to run out of the clock. Mater Dei led, 11-7, with just under five minutes left and then held on after a strike by Harvard-Westlake with 32 seconds left off a backcourt turnover.
The Monarchs never trailed, and their lead reached 7-3 after Jack Seybold’s perimeter strike from 7 meters with 4:25 left in the first half. Seybold, Dunstan and Luke Wyatt each scored three goals.
Mater Dei used a sagging zone to surround Hallock, a powerful senior bound for Stanford. The defense limited passes to Hallock at center and forced the Wolverines to beat goalie Nolan Strout (six saves) by threading shots through a sea of shot blockers.
Mater Dei recorded nine field blocks, including two apiece by Wyatt, Eli Lule and Seybold. Lule, a center defender, fouled out in the third, but the Monarchs got strong play from guard Bennie Seybold, Jack's brother.
“The fact that we limited Hallock to one shot out of center position, that’s the only way we can beat Harvard-Westlake,” Segesman said.
Hallock’s only shot from 2 meters came with 4:53 left in the fourth on a backhanded attempt that he unleashed for his second goal.
“Bottom line is, they came out with more energy than us,” Hallock said. "That pains me to say that but we can't let that happen ever again. It falls on me as a team leader to get our guys a little more fired up.
"I thought we responded well. We rattled off a few goals. I think it showed a lot of character coming back to one goal in the fourth quarter. I'm excited. If this is our worst day, I want to see our best day."
Mater Dei's energy showed with its shot blocking along with the re-emergence of its counterattack, which was missing last week in a victory against Orange Lutheran. The Monarchs netted three counterattack goals, including two by Wyatt.
"When we play with a lot of energy, we do good things," Segesman said. "It's a big step for us tonight."
Mater Dei finished 2 for 7 on the power-play, including the one it used to run out the clock at the end of the game, and made a penalty shot. Harvard-Westlake went 3 for 7 with the extra attacker.
The teams could face off next weekend at the North-South Challenge.
No. 5 Huntington Beach 12, No. 7 Newport Harbor 11: Ethan Wojciechowski scored five goals to lead the defending champion Oilers (14-5, 2-0) past the host Sailors and Cole Brosnan (four goals).
Marina 13, Edison 12: Luka Karaman scored with nine seconds left to lift the Vikings to the upset at Newport Harbor. Marina (1-1 in league) led, 12-8, before the Chargers (0-2 in league) tied the score, 12-12. Junior Leo Yuno paced Marina with six goals.
Los Alamitos 12, Fountain Valley 10: Paul Carey scored seven goals at Newport Harbor to lead the Griffins (2-0), who held on after leading, 6-0.
In the Freeway League:
Troy 15, Sonora 13: Andrew Kim scored four goals from center to lead the Warriors.
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