Fouls lead to Mater Dei falling to rival Harvard-Westlake in Elite 8 final


STUDIO CITY – Mater Dei boys water polo coach Chris Segesman couldn’t recall a championship match quite like the one the Monarchs struggled through Saturday night.

In the finals of the S & R Sport Elite 8 tournament against rival Harvard-Westlake of Studio City, the short-handed Monarchs were whistled for 16 exclusions, had three starters foul out and another starter ejected from the match in the fourth period.

Top-seeded Harvard-Westlake avoided such foul problems and converted well on the power play to sink Mater Dei, 15-9, to capture the inaugural eight-team tournament.

Harvard-Westlake (8-0) went 7 for 14 with the extra attacker and converted a penalty shot. Mater Dei (5-1) finished 3 for 7 on the power-play. The Monarchs were whistled for exclusions at 2 meters, in transition and in the backcourt.

“I actually never played a championship game with that many exclusions,” Segesman said. “It’s just part of water polo. Sometimes it’s in your favor, sometimes it’s not. We got to expect it. We’re coming to Harvard’s home pool. And Harvard is a great team. They’re well-coached.”

Harvard-Westlake earned five power-play chances in the opening period, but the Monarchs allowed only one conversion and trailed, 4-3.

Mater Dei tied the score twice in the second period and trimmed the Wolverines’ lead to 7-6 on Jackson Seybold’s third perimeter strike of the quarter with 1:17 left. But Harvard-Westlake capitalized on a defensive miscue by the Monarchs with 36 seconds left and received a power-play strike by Felix Brozyna-Vilim with three seconds left to lead, 9-6, at halftime.

Mater Dei never drew closer than two goals in the second half and didn’t score in the fourth. Seybold paced Mater Dei with four goals while Kirby Slater added three.

The Monarchs played without starting attackers Christian Hockenbury (cut) and Ian Minsterman (shoulder) but received strong fill-in play from Keegan Coleman, Barron Banta and Kaden Kaneko.

“I’m proud of my guys,” said Segesman, whose squad beat Harvard-Westlake in the Division 1 finals last season, 9-8, after dropping CIF championships to the Wolverines in 2013-14 by scores of, 9-6, and, 10-7.

“It’s a great rivalry. We’ll battle as the season goes but they played better than us tonight.”

Brozyna-Vilim paced Harvard-Westlake with four goals while tournament MVP Evan Rosenfeld, Alec Mendelsohn and Alex Bucur each added three apiece. Sam Krutonog made 10 saves.

“It wasn’t pretty by any means,” Harvard-Westlake coach Brian Flacks said.

“Mater Dei plays a physical brand of ball. The game, in general, is physical, so it resulted in exclusions.”

In the third-place match:

Huntington Beach 9, Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton 3: Curtis Jarvis scored four goals, and Patrick Saunders made several tough saves in the second half to lift the Oilers (4-2), who lost to Harvard-Westlake, 10-3, in the semifinals.

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