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Laguna Beach reaches Div. 2 semifinals
Riley Thomas wiped away the blood under his nose and jumped in the pool. Duncan Lynde thrust his arms in the air after his go-ahead goal.
And Maxx McCarter powered out of the water to prevent a breakaway goal.
Laguna Beach's boys water polo team let its championship desire be seen Saturday afternoon in the final minute at Murrieta Valley.
Lynde scored the go-ahead goal off a foul outside 5 meters with 55 seconds left and McCarter stopped a counterattack with a point-blank save with 21 seconds left as the Breakers posted a 10-8 victory in a Division 2 quarterfinal.
Laguna Beach (21-9) captured the past two Division 3 titles but will play Santa Barbara in the Division 2 semifinals Wednesday.
“These guys don't want to be the team that loses for Laguna Beach,” Breakers coach Ethan Damato said. “They want to be champions.”
Thomas' bloody nose was a sign of the intensity of the match. He jumped back into the pool with the score tied, 8-8, with 1:11 left.
On the ensuing possession, Thomas passed to Lynde at center. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior drew a foul just outside 5 meters, and then did something he hadn't done all season: fire a perimeter shot.
Lynde found an upper corner to give the Breakers a 9-8 lead with 55 seconds left. “I think I caught them off guard,” he said.
Lynde celebrated but the Breakers had work left. They survived a power-play chance by Murrieta Valley when a shot hit off a post.
Laguna Beach turned the ball over with 24 seconds left, setting up a dramatic conclusion. Hot-shooting Evan Price of Murrieta Valley broke free on the counterattack but McCarter blocked it with his shoulder, leading to an open-net goal by Aki Andersen with three seconds left.
“I just got up as high as I could,” McCarter said of the save.
Thomas finished with a game-high four goals.
In another Division 2 game:
Damien of La Verne 6, Foothill 5: Chase Woollett scored on a penalty with 3:21 left to trim the Knights' deficit to 6-5 but the Spartans held on at Pomona-Pitzer.
In Division 7:
Cypress 9, Ocean View 7: Dennis Hyon and Louis Kim each scored four goals and Bryce Mattson made 11 saves to help the visiting Chargers (21-8) reach the semifinals for the first time. Cypress plays Don Lugo of Chino on Wednesday.
In Division 3:
Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach 7, Tesoro 6: The host Mustangs scored with six seconds left to edge the Titans (21-9), who got three goals apiece from Hunter Johnson and Brad Miller.