Noah Sasaki of Orange Lutheran holds the ball high in a close duel at Harvard-Westlake of Studio City on Saturday night. The Lancers opened a three-goal lead in the first half but fell, 7-6, to the top-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 1.

Orange Lutheran pushes No. 1 Harvard-Westlake; HB captures North-South


Orange Lutheran held the confidence it needed Saturday night as it approached a mighty challenge in CIF Division 1 boys water polo.

The Lancers attempted to topple host and undefeated Harvard-Westlake of Studio City, just three days after beating Orange County juggernaut Mater Dei in another road test.

Harvard-Westlake and Mater Dei have played for the past three Division 1 titles.

“Winning (against) Mater Dei boosted our confidence a lot,” Orange Lutheran goalie Jake Simmons said. “That helped us coming into this game (against) Harvard.”

The confidence and strong start helped the Lancers give top-ranked Harvard its closest match, but the Wolverines used their counterattack to rally for a 7-6 victory to improve to 19-0.

Playing again with injured center Felix Brozyna-Vilim, Harvard erased a 3-0 deficit and took its first lead at, 5-4, on a counterattack by Alec Mendelsohn about a minute into the fourth.

Harvard added two more counterattacks to twice lead by two goals, including, 7-5, with 2:11 remaining.

Matt Kacura scored a power-play strike off a pass from Ash Molthen with two seconds left to draw the Lancers (13-2) within one.

“If we would have won this game, it definitely would have proven to everyone out there that we can play with anyone in Division 1,” said Molthen, who had a goal, two assists and three assists. “It’s still a good game for us. … We were up all the way until the fourth quarter.”

Orange Lutheran center Josh Orrick scored from center for the first two goals of the second period as the Lancers led, 3-0. The Wolverines’ Luke Henriksson snapped the shutout with a perimeter strike with 3:18 left in the first half.

“The team has gone through a lot of adversity already,” Harvard coach Brian Flacks said. “We go down, 3-0, and I thought (our) kids did a really nice job … (staying) very positive. … But credit to OLu. They came out with a ton of energy.”

Simmons made two of his six saves against the Harvard power play, which finished 2 for 8. Orange Lutheran went 1 for 3 with the extra attacker.

Sam Krutonog made 11 saves for the Wolverines.

In the North-South Challenge:

No. 2 Huntington Beach 11, No. 1 Mater Dei 6: Curtis Jarvis had four goals and two assists and Patrick Saunders made nine saves as the Oilers (17-3) captured the tournament for the first time. Quinten Osborne and Jacob Cavano added two goals apiece for Huntington Beach, which played without injured Ethan Wojciechowski.

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