Laguna Beach's Camden Benson shoots and scores past Murrieta Valley's Eric Schleuniger during the Breakers' 9-4 victory over the Nighthawks in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, Calif. on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Roundup: Aliso Niguel reaches first final on late Knight heroics


The competition in the rugged South Coast League pushed Aliso Niguel’s boys water polo team to new heights Wednesday night.

The third-seeded Wolverines overcame an early deficit and a late obstacle to edge No. 2 seed Redlands East Valley, 8-7, in the CIF Division 3 semifinals and advance to their first section final.

Colin Knight scored off a foul from about 9 meters with nine seconds left to snap a 7-7 deadlock at the Woollett Aquatics Center and lift the Wolverines (21-7), the third-place team in the South Coast behind El Toro and Dana Hills.

Aliso Niguel will play top-seeded Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, an 11-6 winner against Riverside Poly, in the final Saturday at Woollett at 1 p.m.

Knight’s game-high fifth goal came after the Wolverines regained possession and their composure after Redlands East Valley goalie Harrison Lane made a point-blank save against a power-play chance with about 13 seconds left. Knight also drew the exclusion for Aliso Niguel against Redlands East Valley (23-5), which won the Division 5 title last season.

“Being in that league definitely helped us,” fourth-year Aliso Niguel coach Jon Puffer said. “We won’t see a team better than El Toro and Dana Hills throughout all of CIF.”

Aliso Niguel trailed by two goals twice in the first half. Senior Nick Ure had two goals and three field blocks while junior goalie made Evan Johnston made 10 saves.

"We were pretty confident," Knight said. "We knew it wss going to be a great game and it was going to be a really close game."

Said Ure, "El Toro and Dana definitely prepared us. And also San Clemente. All three great teams."

In the Division 2 semifinals:

Santa Margarita 9, Ventura 6: Twins Brock and Chase Petersen each scored three goals at Woollett and Noah Hodge made nine saves, including three late in the game, to lead the third-seeded Eagles (25-7) to their first section final. AJ Rossman added two goals for the Eagles, who used their press and counterattack to help open an early 4-0 lead.Santa Margarita will play top-seeded Laguna Beach in the final Saturday at Woollett at 2:30 p.m.

“They’re playing great,” Santa Margarita first-year coach Jeremy Laster said of his team. “They look like they’re in shape. We’re all on the same page. They’re smart players. … Teams can’t stay with us for four quarters.”

Laguna Beach 9, Murrieta Valley 4: Sophomore Colton Gregory scored four goals and Peter Weiland scored two power-play goals to open scoring in the fourth period to help push the top-seeded Breakers (21-9) to their first Division 2 final since 1996. The Breakers edged Santa Margarita in overtime earlier this season. Laguna Beach never trailed against Murrieta Valley but received a scare late when standout utility Sebastian Jacobs suffered an apparent neck injury. The junior was placed in a neck brace and taken on a stretcher from the pool.

“We’re being cautious,” Laguna Beach principal Chris Herzfeld. “(He) was having a tough time supporting his own head. … I didn’t even look at the end of the game because I was concerned about Seb.”

Laguna Beach played with all its available players. No Breakers have been suspended from its intense quarterfinal victory against Hoover. 

In the Division 5 semifinals:

San Juan Hills 8, Corona 6: Goalie Andrew Mansoor made 15 saves and Brent McClain scored four goals at Santiago of Corona as the Stallions (18-12) upset the top seed to reach their first section final. San Juan Hills plays Burroughs of Burbank, a 9-7 winner against La Canada, in the finals Saturday at Woollett at 10 a.m.

In the Division 4 semifinals:

Yucaipa 15, Northwood 14 (OT): The top-seeded Timberwolves fell at Beaumont in sudden-death overtime. Northwood, which tied for fourth in the Pacific Coast League, finished the season with a 20-13 record after going 8-21 in 2015.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Northwood coach Kyle Kim-E said.

In the Division 7 semifinals:

Shadow Hills 14, Katella 7: The top-seeded Knights (16-3) lost at Indio to fourth-seeded Shadow Hills. Katella trailed, 6-4, after the first period and, 12-7, entering the fourth period. 

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