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Foothill tops Dana Hills in epic sudden-death battle for Div. 2 crown
IRVINE The Foothill and Dana Hills boys water polo teams proved Saturday that making championship history is no small feat.
The top-seeded Knights and No. 2 Dolphins pushed each other into the rare waters of double sudden-death overtime for a CIF-Southern Section crown.
After nearly eight periods in the Division 2 championship, Foothill emerged with the victory, edging Dana Hills, 6-5, on a counterattack strike by Mike Miller to capture back-to-back titles for the first time.
Miller took a cross-pass from fellow senior Bobby Lee and skipped a cross-cage shot under the arm of goalie Riley Zachary for the winning goal with 1:04 left in the second sudden-death overtime at the Woollett Aquatics Center.
“Most exciting game I’ve been involved in, by far,” veteran Foothill coach Jim Brumm said. “Dana Hills played sensational and I thought our kids played sensational. … To go back-to-back is definitely a whole different animal.”
Foothill (28-2) had several chances to win in the first three-minute sudden-death overtime. Dana Hills (25-7), in its first section final, fought off two power plays, got a point-blank save from Zachary on a counterattack by Lee and saw a last-second shot by Foothill bounce off a side post.
The Knights’ drive didn’t wilt as Zachary racked up 16 saves and their power play went 2 for 10. Dana Hills finished 2 for 5 with the extra man.
“You always have to keep battling,” said Lee, who led the winning counterattack after Dana Hills skipped a shot over the goal. “Most epic game of my life.”
Lee also had the assist late in the fourth period as Foothill’s Nolan Ortega helped force overtime with a counterattack strike, tying the score, 4-4, with 2:28 left. Bennett Williams applied the final touch on regulation with a steal coming out of a Foothill timeout.
The score was tied four times in regulation.
Foothill struck in the first three-minute regular overtime frame as Griffin Gaughran scored from center on an entry pass from Zane Scott.
With 53 seconds left in the second three-minute regular overtime, Williams unleashed a sweep shot from 5 meters, tying the score, 5-5. The Stanford commit finished with three goals.
“So happy with the way (we) played and so stoked with the effort,” Dana Hills coach Matt Rosa said of his team. “It hurts (to lose) right now.”
"It was a really long game," Miller said. "Really tiring and exhausting but it was worth it."
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