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PHOTO BY KATHY PICKELL; TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCAVRSITY.COM
University and Erik Whyte, right, reached the Division 1 first round with an 11-6 victory against Huntington Beach on Tuesday.

Roundup: University pushes Huntington Beach out of playoffs

OCVARSITY.COM
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High school water polo.

University's outside shooters were sharp, and its goalie was steady. But a brief sequence in the first period produced arguably the most impactful moment of Tuesday's CIF-SS Division 1 boys water polo wild-card match between the Trojans and Huntington Beach.

Jovan Jeremic, Huntington Beach's top player, left in the middle of the opening frame because of a head injury and didn't return.

"It changed the whole outlook," University coach Andy Coffman said. "Our key was stopping him."

University still executed its game plan on both ends and powered to an 11-6 victory at Woodbridge to advance to Wednesday's first-round match against South Coast League champion Dana Hills. The Trojans (21-8) will play No. 7-seeded Dana Hills (22-7) at San Juan Hills at 5 p.m.

The sharp-shooting Jeremic was injured after his third shot attempt. With University leading, 2-1, the senior fired from the point, about 6 or 7 meters from the goal. The Trojans defense in the field deflected the shot, but Jeremic never transitioned to defense as University broke for a counterattack goal.

After telling a nearby official that he couldn't see, Jeremic was assisted from the pool. He was wobbly at first and later pressed an ice pack on his head.

"I'm hoping it was an accident," Coffman said of the injury. "I felt bad for him. ... He's a phenomenal player."

Huntington Beach coach Brian Anderson said Jeremic was examined by a trainer and was "pretty lucid" after the game.

The coach said he didn't consider returning Jeremic to the match.

"It's a safety issue," Anderson said.

With Huntington Beach (15-14) focusing on center Jake Sanders, University's outside shooters found success.

Erik Whyte, Griffin Chappell and Todd Denaro each tossed in goals from the perimeter. Chappell and Denaro each finished with a match-high three goals.

Chappell scored two goals from the outside during a 3-0 run in the second period. Denaro scored from the perimeter with 35 seconds left in the third for a 9-4 lead.

Goalie Alex Wolf, one of three sophomore starters for the Oilers, provided the resistance with 15 saves.

University's defense picked up its share of ejections but limited the Oilers to two even-strength goals in the final three periods and a 3-for-9 effort on the man advantage.

Goalie Alex Bennett finished with 12 saves for University, including four against the power play.

"I think we were playing a heavy (on defense)," Coffman said. "I think they (Dana Hills) is beatable. We have to play better than we did today, and I think we're capable of doing that."

University went 2 for 2 with the extra attacker.

In other Division 1 wild-card games:

Edison 10, Long Beach Poly 9: Alec Niederland scored with five seconds left on a timeout play to lift the visiting Chargers (15-14), who play at top-seeded Mater Dei (27-0) Wednesday at 5 p.m. Goalie Nick Halloran blocked a penalty shot in the fourth for the Chargers. Justin Harrison added four goals from center for Edison.

Northwood 17, Lakewood 4: RJ Simmons scored six goals to lead the host Timberwolves, who play at No. 3 Loyola on Wednesday at John C. Argue pool in Los Angeles at 3 p.m.

In a Division 2 wild-card game:

Chaparral 14, Costa Mesa 10: Wyatt Ferris netted five goals in the loss for the host Mustangs (21-7). "I am really proud of the way our guys played tonight and throughout the season," Mustangs coach Justin Taylor said in a text message. "(We're) just in a really tough division for being one of the smallest public schools in the county."

In a Division 3 wild-card game:

San Juan Hills 14. Schurr 5: Chris Garau scored eight goals to lead the visiting Stallions to their first playoff victory. They play at top-seded La Canada in the first round Wednesday.

In a Division 4 wild-card games:

Sunny Hills 11, Warren 10: Mike Asendorf scored five goals, including the winner with 2:15 left, to lift the Lancers at Splash Regional Aquatic Center. Sunny Hills plays at Santa Monica on Thursday.

La Habra 22, Gahr 3: Bernie Hefner, Blake Ruschman and Ben Russell each scored four goals for the Highlanders at Splash Regional Aquatic Center. La Habra plays at El Segundo on Thursday.

In Division 7 wild-card games:

Garden Grove 13, San Gorgonio 9: Sophomore Matt Gale scored four goals for the host Argonauts, who play at fourth-seeded Valencia on Thursday.

Yorba Linda 14, La Quinta 1: Connor Aguilera had 20 saves for the host Mustangs, who play at River Valley League champion Ramona on Thursday.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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