By Ted Apodaca
Pacifica High could not shake a determined Buena Park High crew, but the Mariners took advantage of a late power play to set up the shot they wanted. Justin Krause took a pass from Bradley Clinton and fired a scoring shot from about eight meters, with 23 seconds left that gave the Mariners a 9-8 victory in the CIF-SS Division 6 finals on Saturday.
Buena Park tried to respond, but the Mariner defense turned their final attempt away on blocked shot. Pacifica players and coaches celebrated the program’s first title by jumping into the pool.
Pacifica had led most of the match, but could not shake Buena Park. The Mariners had taken an 8-5 lead 3:41 left in the match on a goal from Trenton Toma before the Coyotes rallied to tie the score at 8-8 with 59 second left.
Spencer Clinton, Krause and Toma each had two goals to lead the offense. Bradley Clinton, Ethan Ross and Christopher Sotelo each added one. Goal keeper Nathaniel Wolsky had eight saves.
It had been 18 years since the Mariners reached the playoffs and after rebuilding the program for the past two years, the Mariners could be set for even more big seasons.
“We’ve put in a good first step, it’s all hard work and from now on its just moving forward with this,” Assistant coach Andrew Mutafyan said.
The Mariners won the Empire League championship and were seeded as the top team in the Division 6 bracket. The run through the playoffs brought Mariner supporters out in groves and the stands were filled with boisterous Pacifica students and families.
“The spirit on campus and the spirit that you saw here is what you see at football games, at volleyball games, these guys support each other, so it’s fun, it’s just a lot of fun to be at Pacifica,” Pacifica Principal Robin Patterson said.
Pacifica finished the season with a 25-4 overall record and a 19-game win streak, dating back to a run at a Tournament in Diamond Bar. A division 5 team dropped out before the tournament, and the Mariners opted to move up as a test for themselves. Mutafyan said it proved to be a turning point for the team.
“There were four teams that were ranked top 10 in D5 that week and we beat them all,” Mutafyan said.
The teams also benefitted from senior leadership after that. A group of seniors met with coaches and suggested that the young players would benefit from more positive reinforcement and Mutafyan and Head Coach Eduardo Osorio accepted their request.
“That really changed the season too, was getting our guys a little more positivity,” Mutafyan said.
The Mariners will return several key players, including Spenser Clinton and Trenton Toma, who are only freshman.