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PHOTO, TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Los Al goalie Nikki Quinn made 10 saves to help the Griffins beat No. 2 Foothill, 7-6, on Thursday.

Foothill can't solve Los Alamitos defense

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
:

High school water polo.

Los Alamitos' girls water polo team capped a defensive masterpiece in fitting fashion Thursday night. Goalie Nikki Quinn blocked a power-play shot just before the final buzzer to seal the No. 5 Griffins' 7-6 victory against No. 2 Foothill in a Division 1 nonleague showdown at Foothill.

Los Alamitos (8-2) held the Knights (5-1) to an0-for-6 effort on the power play and allowed only one natural goal in the final three periods.

The Griffins also kept Foothill scoreless for almost 14 minutes during one stretch of the second and third periods.

They played a tight press but also received 10 saves from Quinn, including two against strong chances by Cana Manzella from center in the second half.

"I was really stoked on the effort level of the defense," Los Alamitos coach Dave Carlson said.

"(Foothill has) good shooters, but I know on that last possession by the look in the shooters' eyes that there wasn't a lot open. ... With the personnel we have, for us to beat good teams, we have to play four quarters of not-stop, physical, in-your-face defense."

Foothill, ranked second in Division 1, called timeout to set up its power play with 22 seconds left. The Knights worked the ball to the left-hander's side, nearly lost possession and moved the ball to the right-hander's flat. Foothill fired a skip-shot from the point but Quinn made the save and Becca Corb tossed the rebound to the corner as time expired.

"I thought we played as a team," Quinn said.

Foothill's offense produced three natural goals in the first period to open a 3-1 lead. Ashley Zwirner and Brenna Thomas scored counterattack goals after the Knights fought off power-play chances. Manzella then scored from 8 meters as time expired in the first.

Los Alamitos' defense then pitched a shutout for the next 13 minutes, 43 seconds to take a 5-4 lead going into the fourth.

The Griffins, fourth in Division1, scored the first two goals of the fourth to open a 7-4 lead. Shannon Crowley scored off a drive with 5:55 left, and Stephanie Mutafyan netted the eventual winner for a 7-4 lead with 2:16 left.

Ella Weber scored twice to lead six different Griffins in scoring. Los Alamitos' scoring was more balanced than Tuesday when Mutafyan netted five goals in the Griffins' 8-7 loss against No. 4 El Toro. "We don't like losing," Quinn said. "We came out and played our best.

The loss might have been costly for Foothill. Zwirner left in the second half because of an undisclosed injury, Knights coach Jeff Colton confirmed.

In nonleague:

No. 8 Rosary 7, Cerritos 6: Anastacia Gonzalez had three goals, and Jessica Hermosillo made 13 saves to help the visiting Royals (4-2) hang on for the victory.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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