By Ted Apodaca
Pacifica scored a goal with 23 seconds left in the match and it proved to be the heart-breaker for Buena Park as the Coyotes fell, 9-8, in the CIF-SS Division 6 boys water polo championship on Saturday at William Woollett Aquatic Center.
Buena Park had stormed back from an 8-5 deficit with just 3:41 left in the match. Pacifica scored two goals in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 8-5, after the match had been tight throughout the first three quarters. However, the Coyotes refused to quit as Eduardo Rodriguez scored just 12 seconds later to cut the lead back to 8-6.
With 1:17 left in the match, Rodriguez added his second goal on a shot from about 11 meters out, to cut the lead back down to 8-7. Just 18 seconds later, Joey Suarez scored his second goal of the match on a penalty shot to tie the score up at 8-8.
“Our guys played with a lot of heart right there by doing that, it showed that we didn’t give up or anything,” Buena Park Coach Scott Liddicoat said.
However, with 34 seconds left, the Coyotes were called for an exclusion foul, setting up Pacifica on a power play. The Mariners set up a shot for Justin Krause, who hit the match-winner. Buena Park had to settle for the runner up plaque in an epic finals showdown.
“It was the best season this school has ever had … it’s just tough to digest right now,” Liddicoat said after the match.
Defenses for Buena Park and Pacifica had dominated the first half, as the Mariners led just 3-2 at halftime. The game was scoreless for nearly the entire first quarter, but the Mariners scored two late goals to take a 2-0 lead after the first. But the Coyotes had goals from Kevin Elizarraraz and Steven Marmolejo to cut the lead to 3-2 by halftime. Jurai Kasai had a goal in the third that cut a Mariner lead to 5-4, as the Coyotes kept the match close, but were unable to tie it until the final seconds.
Early in the match, Coyote goalie Ramnson Rebollar had several key saves, including five in the second quarter. Rebollar had several big saves on point-blank shots, as he finished with 18 total saves.
“He’s the one that kept us in the game,” Liddicoat said of Rebollar.
The Coyotes were fourth in their league this season, but made the most of their playoff berth as they advanced to the program’s first CIF-SS final. It was also the first trip to the finals for Pacifica.