Cypress' magical run ends in semifinals
High school water polo.
CHINO HILLS – It will certainly take some time for the Cypress boys water polo team to realize it, but, all things considered, their resilient season will be defined and ultimately remembered by the remarkable run that produced a trip to the first CIF-SS semifinal match in school history ... not the loss that ended it.
After jumping to a two-goal lead at halftime, the Centurions (15-15) were outscored, 4-0, in the third period and eventually fell to second-seeded Don Lugo of Chino, 9-8, in the Division 7 semifinals at Ayala High on Wednesday night.
"It'll take a lot of reflection from these guys to realize what kind of season we had," Cypress coach Erik Sandvig. "It was just one of those seasons; it was emotional with all the ups and downs; losing one of our main starters to ineligibility (senior Jack Corrigan) before getting him back for the playoffs.
"Then everybody came up big when the playoffs came around."
Senior Dennis Hyon — the Centurions' top scorer — finished with three goals (two in the first period) and a pair of steals. Louis Kim and Garrett Spoon each added two goals, and goalkeeper Bryce Mattson had 10 saves.
"It's an amazing group of kids," Sandvig said. "I've had three guys play water polo for me for all four years, and whether they played or not, none of them complained and just did their job.
"Seeing those guys brings so many memories for me. It's emotional when I think about how badly they wanted this."
Cypress, which fell to Don Lugo (28-4) earlier this season, 11-6, scored on three of its first seven possessions to race out to an early two-goal advantage.
The third-seeded Centurions then added two more goals in the second to nab a 5-3 lead at half.
"We knew that we could play with those guys, even though they showed us how strong they were when they beat us 11-6," Sandvig said. "Today everybody stepped up to the level of playoff water polo."
In the decisive third period, the Conquistadors pulled even at the 4:30 mark and took the lead for good on consecutive goals by center Ernie Rawson.
Cypress closed to 7-6, 8-7, and eventually, 9-8, in the fourth period, but a tying shot attempt on the final possession came up empty.
"We got in a lot of foul trouble in the first half and had to sit three guys a little bit in the third quarter, including our main scorer," Sandvig said. "That's when it got away from us; but we rallied back, played smart and made it a game up to the last second."