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, KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange Lutheran's Sam Sasaki celebrates his goal during Wednesday's Trinity League match won by the Lancers.

Orange Lutheran breaks Mater Dei's hold on Trinity League

STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA Ash Molthen held the ball with his arms spread wide and rejoiced as the final seconds of overtime ticked away Wednesday night.

Orange Lutheran’s status as a boys water polo contender was about make a giant leap.

With Molthen leading a united and composed effort, the third-ranked Lancers made their biggest statement by defeating top-ranked Mater Dei for the first time, 13-11, in a clash that could deliver the school its first Trinity League title.

Molthen, a left-handed junior, sparked a 3-0 run in the first three-minute overtime with a goal and an assist on a hard pass to Matt Kacura on a weakside drive. Kacura finished a counterattack with a backhand shot off a pass by Noah Sasaki for the second goal of the spurt.

And suddenly, the momentum Mater Dei (11-3, 1-1) built with its fourth-period surge was zapped and Orange Lutheran (13-1, 2-0) held on to hand the Monarchs their first league loss since 2006, snapping a 41-match win streak for the nine-time defending league champion.

“We felt like it was our time this year,” said Orange Lutheran coach Steve Carrera, whose squad debuted in the Trinity League in 2013.

“(This victory) was something we wanted to do and we felt we could do it this year. (Mater Dei) is such a great program. (I have) a lot of respect for this program and (Coach) Chris (Segesman). … This is just one hurdle, and we’re happy to have gotten over it.”

Orange Lutheran’s confidence showed in its composure and team-oriented play. The Lancers led, 2-0, after the first period, but after a Mater Dei hot streak to open the second quarter, Orange Lutheran opened an 8-5 lead in the third and took a 9-7 lead early in the fourth.

Mater Dei tied the score at 9 and 10 to force overtime. The Monarchs’ Jackson Seybold scored his match-high sixth goal with 18 seconds left in the fourth period, scoring off a foul outside 5 meters by Molthen.

The Lancers and Molthen quickly regained their grip on the match in overtime.

“It feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Molthen, who finished with three goals. “We finished it. We finished the game. That’s what we needed to do. Just keep our composure. … I had to bounce back and do what I do.”

Molthen had plenty of help. Kacura netted five goals, and lefty Sam Sasaki and Parker Killion netted two apiece.

Orange Lutheran goalie Jake Simmons made seven saves, and Hannes Daube and Josh Orrick each drew three exclusions. Jacob Markle also added a goal.

“We won that game as a team,” Molthen said. “We all stuck together.”

Mater Dei goalie Billy Motherway matched Simmons with seven saves, while Christian Hockenbury added two. Ian Minsterman, the lone returning starter from Mater Dei’s team that won Division 1 last season, also returned from a shoulder injury.

“Our focus is on the big picture in November,” Segesman said. “OLu is a great team. … We showed a lot of heart, a lot of class. We fought hard. We put ourselves in difficult situations and fought back.”

Both teams face more hurdles this week. On Saturday night at 5, Orange Lutheran plays at Harvard-Westlake of Studio, the top-ranked team in Division 1. The Monarchs depart Thursday for the North-South Challenge, which runs Friday and Saturday in Atherton. 

Contact the writer: dalbano@scng.com


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