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Foothill uses experience edge to get past Newport Harbor
NEWPORT BEACH Sometimes the fruits of a CIF-SS championship, or two, continue to emerge long after the shiny gold plaque has been hoisted.
Foothill’s fourth-ranked boys water polo team, coming off two consecutive Division 2 titles, leaned on its postseason experience Wednesday to calm an early storm by host Newport Harbor.
The Knights’ composure and improved execution helped them erase an early deficit and defeat No. 9 Newport Harbor, 10-6, in a nonleague match between Division 1 contenders.
Newport Harbor blanked Foothill, 2-0, in the first period and led, 3-1, early in the second before the Knights (3-0) rattled off seven consecutive goals.
“Definitely having the experience being in the championship games gave us the confidence we needed,” said Foothill goalie Arash Izadmanesh, who made five of his 10 saves in the first period to limit the damage.
“We managed to … just keep playing our game. It’s tradition.”
After Newport Harbor (2-1) opened with a strong press in the first period, Foothill took control by responding with its own tight defense along with a diverse attack.
The Knights, who return three starters and their top two reserves from last season, outscored the Sailors in the second period, 5-1. They received counterattack strikes by Kyle Son and J.T. Miller, two goals by Joe Molina and an extra-man conversion by JJ Hornecker. Molina scored from center and on an after-goal play.
Foothill’s defense held Newport Harbor scoreless for about 12½ minutes, a drought that Newport Harbor center Jackson Westerman ended with a power-play goal 27 seconds into the fourth period.
The Knights’ defense held despite playing much of the stretch without defender Zane Scott (foul trouble). Foothill finished with five field blocks, including two by Nolan Ortega and one by Scott against the power play after an exclusion against Izadmanesh.
Foothill coach Jim Brumm thought the Knights settled down after they “rushed” their play in the first period.
“We’re on a good roll,” Brumm said of his program. “They have a good mindset. In the back of their mind, they’re confident. They have to have faith in their systems and play together.”
Hornecker and Molina each scored three goals, while Westerman paced the Sailors with three goals and four drawn exclusions.
Cole Brosnan added three assists for Newport Harbor, which finished 4 for 6 on the power play.
“We started out well and just kind of went away from the game plan after that,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said. “We’ll learn from it.”
In another game:
Troy 13, Vista Murrieta 12 (OT): Tanner Henkhaus scored in sudden-death overtime to lift the Warriors.
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