Huntington Beach's boys water polo team, shown here after capturing the North-South Challenge last weekend, took a major step toward claiming a third consecutive Sunset League crown by defeating Newport, 10-7, on Wednesday.

Huntington Beach confidence grows with victory over Newport Harbor


NEWPORT BEACH – Huntington Beach’s boys water polo team took another major stride Wednesday night, and the Oilers hope it’s not their last.

The center tandem of Garrett Zaan and Quinten Osborne combined for seven goals, Jacob Cavano racked up four field blocks and Patrick Saunders made 13 saves as the No. 2 Oilers defeated No. 6 Newport Harbor, 10-7, to take control of the Sunset League.

In pursuit of their third consecutive Sunset League crown, the visiting Oilers (18-3, 3-0) won their biggest league match four days after beating nemesis Mater Dei, 11-6, to capture the North-South Challenge.

“These two games were kind of the pinnacle of our season as far as placement goes (for) CIF (playoffs), as far as our confidence goes,” Huntington Beach coach Sasa Branisavljevic said.

“(The) tournament was pretty draining … so I was happy we were able to push through.”

Zaan scored a match-high four goals while Osborne added three goals and three drawn exclusions. The Oilers’ improved cohesion surfaced with Cavano, Curtis Jarvis, Matt Robert and Ethan Wojciechowski posting two assists apiece

Newport Harbor (13-6, 2-1) didn’t give the Oilers any break, leading, 2-1, after the first period and trailing, 5-4, at halftime. The Sailors went 4 for 4 with the extra man in the first half.

Huntington Beach’s 2-meter strength surfaced in the second half.

Osborne extended the Oilers’ lead to 7-4 late in the third with a strike from center on an entry pass from Wojciechowski.

The Oilers posted Zaan and Osborne at the same time early in the fourth and Zaan scored to make it 8-5. The duo set up at 2 meters on the next possession, opening a perimeter strike for Cavano.

“Quinten is a beast,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said. “They’re two quality centers. ... They scored four goals out of 2 meters or in a post-up situation, and that kind of crushed us.”

The Sailors also showed progress. Jackson Westerman drew four exclusions for a power-play that finished 4 for 7, while Huntington Beach went 3 for 6.

Max Sandberg made seven saves and freshman Makoto Kenney and Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt each scored twice, and Cole Brosnan added two assists.

“They believe a little bit more,” Sinclair said.

The Oilers’ depth showed with an early four-player substitution. They also won with limited offense from Wojciechowski, who is coming off an injury and didn’t start.

“We see this as the first step toward something bigger,” Branisavljevic said after the North-South title.

In another Sunset League:

Edison 20, Marina 15 (OT): Nick Wong, Austin Cozza and Carter Walton each scored four goals for the Division 3 Chargers (2-1 in league), who remained in contention for third place. 

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