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Villa Park pulls out victory over Huntington Beach
Villa Park senior Madison Lewis didn’t want her water polo season to end Tuesday.
Her teammates played as if they felt the same way.
The Spartans overcame three deficits to rally past visiting Huntington Beach, 9-8, in a CIF-SS Division 1 wild-card match.
Tarah Morton blasted in a cross-cage shot from the wing with 1:52 left in the fourth period to give Villa Park a 9-8 lead, its only advantage of the afternoon.
Goalie Keri Tombrello helped seal the victory with a save with 55 seconds left and a steal with five seconds left.
The Spartans (15-15) play at top-seeded Corona del Mar in the first round Wednesday.
“I’m not ready to end water polo yet,” said Lewis, who scored all of her team-high three goals in the second half. “It was exciting, especially for us since we lost a lot of our starters last year (to graduation). We weren’t expected to go this far.”
Huntington Beach (21-8), an at-large entry from the Sunset League, defeated Villa Park, 12-10, earlier in the season, but the Spartans didn’t have Lewis because of a knee injury.
Villa Park, the third-place team from the Century League, trailed for the final time, 8-7, after Ellen Hayami scored on a direct throw with 2:45 left. But Lewis responded seconds later with a goal from 2 meters, tying the score.
Lewis scored from center earlier in the fourth and was a focus of Huntington Beach’s defense on Morton’s winning goal. The Oilers crashed on Lewis but she passed the ball out to Kiana Etrata, who quickly fed Morton on the wing.
Villa Park also trailed, 4-1, in the second period but scored three consecutive goals to knot the score at halftime.
The Spartans almost trailed 7-5 going into the fourth, but Lewis provided a spark late in the third.
As Huntington Beach’s defense tried to close out a stop, Lewis forced a backcourt turnover and setup a goal by Dana Tombrello with 22 seconds to cut the Oilers’ lead to 7-6.
"It had a big impact," Lewis said of the goal. "It kind of gave us more confidence."
Both goalies played well. Keri Tombrello finished with 13 saves to set Villa Park's single-season record with 247. Huntington Beach's Maya Wilde had 14 saves.
Villa Park also got a spark with the arrival of the Spartans' softball team, which provided added energy.
In other wild-card games:
In Division 1:
Beckman 9, Esperanza 3: Junior Dysiree Villalvazo made a season-high 19 saves to lead the host Patriots (20-8), who play at third-seeded Laguna Beach on Wednesday.
Edison 19, Peninsula 6: Alys Williams scored six goals and Abby Oshiro added three at Ocean View to help lead the Chargers (16-11), who play at Santa Barbara on Wednesday.
In Division 2:
Santa Margarita 12, ML King 4: Center Emily Loughlin scored five goals to lead the visiting Eagles (15-14), who play No. 4 seed Montebello on Thursday.
In Division 7:
Santa Ana 9, San Gorgonio 8: Paola Cruz scored four goals to help lead the host Saints (11-9), who play at top-seeded Santa Ana Valley on Thursday.
In Division 4:
Trabuco Hills 18, Alta Loma 8: Mackenzie Baber scored a season-high nine goals and added five assists to lead the host Mustangs (19-10), who played defending champion Harvard-Westlake on Thursday at San Fernando Regional Pool.