University's Coleman Pickell passes the ball away from Irvine's Zachary Kamai during Tuesday's league match.

Strong start carries Irvine to win over University


IRVINE - Irvine's boys water polo team, ranked No. 8 in the county, settled the issue early Tuesday afternoon in its Pacific Coast League opener against University.

The Vaqueros raced out to a 6-1 lead after one quarter and were in command the rest of the way, defeating the Trojans, 14-6, at University.

Irvine (13-1 overall) was led by Travis Pham, who had six goals, and Fletcher Norseen, who scored four. Zach Kamai and Kevin Barbrick added two goals each for Irvine.

"We started out very strong, luckily we were firing on all cylinders," Irvine coach Ray Wong said. "We scored goals quickly, and after that we pretty much took control of the game, and we just had to think about stopping them."

Irvine used goalkeeper Garret Speed, who had 21 saves, and a strong defensive effort to do that.

"He's been one of our team MVPs," Wong said. "Lately, he's been achieving what I expected him to do. He's been a great asset to our team."

Irvine led, 8-2, at halftime, but University (8-6 overall) showed signs of life in the third quarter, outscoring Irvine, 2-1, before the Vaqueros regained control.

Irvine outscored University, 5-2, in the final stanza.

"It was just disappointing," University coach Andy Coffman said. "I didn't think that we competed very well. They jumped on us early and we just couldn't recover."

University was led by Coleman Pickell and Eric Miller, who had two goals each.

Goalkeeper Alex Bennett had nine saves for the Trojans.

Irvine now heads into a showdown with No. 4 Corona del Mar on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Woollett Aquatics Complex in Irvine.

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