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Mater Dei uses depth to sink Loyola
High school water polo.
SANTA ANA – The final linescore from Wednesday night's boys water polo clash between Mater Dei and visiting Loyola of Los Angeles doesn't give justice to one of the deeper reasons why the Monarchs continue to roll.
Top-ranked Mater Dei extended its Southern Section-record winning streak to 70 matches with an 18-10 nonleague victory but the Monarchs led by only two goals with less than five minutes left.
That's when the Monarchs' sometimes overlooked depth surfaced to halt the Cubs' momentum, and spark a strong finish.
After Loyola (18-5) scored the first goal of the fourth period to trim the Monarchs' lead to 11-9, Mater Dei's Matthew Cuozzo scored from the right hander's wing with 4:55 left on a cross pass from Phillip Tran.
The Cubs trimmed their deficit to two again but Mater Dei (22-0) scored the final six goals, including three by center Jon Walters, to run away with the match between Division 1's two top-ranked teams.
Mater Dei's opponents are well aware of Walters and goalie McQuin Baron, who made six of his 12 saves in the final period. And the Monarchs' Kent Inoue and James Walters are standouts, too. But teams challenge players such as the lesser-known Cuozzo and Tran to beat them, and the seniors are proving to be up to the challenge.
"They have some phenomenal players and then they have their great players, and it's tough to defend," Loyola coach Erik Healy said. "That is why they are undefeated — because they have a good core of guys."
Inoue led Mater Dei with six goals. Jon Walters added five, including four from center. Cuozzo finished with four goals, all on perimeter shots. Tran had five assists.
"What I'm proud of is that this team is good top to bottom," Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman said. "I think that's what brings us where we're at now. ... That was a huge goal (by Cuozzo to make it 12-9)."
Segesman wasn't pleased with his team's defense, though the Monarchs' offense more than made up for the struggles. Mater Dei scored an eye-popping seven goals in the fourth period en route to its third victory against Loyola this season and seventh straight overall.
"Defensively, it was one of our worst games," Segesman said. "We allowed too many goals. In the end of the day, if we allow that many goals, we're going to lose."
Sharp-shooter Chancellor Ramirez scored six goals to lead Loyola, which helped itself by going 5 for 6 with the man-advantage. Ramirez scored three of his goals on extra but didn't find the net in the fourth.
"We just didn't do a good job of taking Chancellor away," Segesman said. "But at the end of the day, I don't know if Chancellor can score enough goals to win a game for them."
Healy said Loyola was encouraged it drew within two goals of Mater Dei in the fourth.
"We're excited about that," he said. "We feel like we can be closer, and we can be up on them. ... Maybe, we'll see them down the line."
Ramirez and James Walters clashed in the fourth period. With Mater Dei leading, 15-10, with less than 1:50 left, Ramirez was excluded after James Walters made a steal coming out of a Cubs' timeout. Segesman called timeout, and during dead time, James Walters picked up a minor act of misconduct (and third foul) for contact with Ramirez.
James Walters will be able to play Thursday against visiting St. John Bosco of Bellflower, Segesman said. Mater Dei then plays host to No. 3 Los Alamitos on Friday night.
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