Chargers trail until fourth but win

The tortoise slid past the hare at Elings Aquatic Center on Wednesday.

Ninth-ranked Harvard-Westlake (17-11) never stopped to take a nap, mind you. It’s just that the Wolverines jumped out early before the slow-starting No. 8 Dos Pueblos Chargers (23-5) crept by at the finish line.

DP advanced to the second round of the CIF Division I boys water polo playoffs with a tension-filled 7-6 win in which Harvard-Westlake at one point had a 3-0 lead and the Chargers didn’t pull ahead until the fourth quarter.

“That was awesome. It was so great to come from behind,” said goalie Kyle Wollert. “I think that’s definitely going to give us a lot of momentum heading into the next round.”

Thanks to Wollert, the Chargers’ start did not go from bad to worse.

The Wolverines scored their second goal of the game exactly halfway through the first quarter, and Wollert made a great save on a close-range shot to keep it from being 3-0.

The Chargers failed to convert on a man-advantage situation at the end of the period, and the visitors fired back to take a 3-0 lead on a penalty shot early in the second.

“In the beginning we got a little beat up and couldn’t get many high-percentage shots,” said coach Chris Parrish. “We played a little bit timid.”

Kevin Cappon bounced a shot off of both posts, Derrick Graham knocked one of the side bar and Wollert made another big save before the Chargers finally got on the board. After a Wolverine ejection, Graham passed to Ian Kistler who one-timed it into the back of the net with 2:34 left in the half.

The momentum had begun to shift.

Graham converted on a 6-on-5 with less than a minute in the half to cut the deficit to one goal at the break.

The Wolverines would go up 4-2 before Kistler scored his second and followed it up with a fist-pump. Conner Cleary, whom Parrish would later say played a very key role in the win, fired one in from the middle to knot it up at 4-4 heading into the final period.

“We haven’t had a win in a close game like that all season,” said Parrish.

It was close, alright.

Derek Shoemaker trickled one in to give the Chargers their first lead with 5:55 left in the game. Cleary put one in from point-blank range to put the hosts up 6-4. The Wolverines made it 6-5 with a goal, but Chase Racich took a cue from his volleyball-playing sisters sitting poolside and tipped a ball to himself amid two defenders before spiking it in. DP withstood one more goal from Harvard-Westlake to hold on for the win.

The Wolverines stood silent and dejected poolside after the buzzer.

Next up for DP is a road trip to No. 2 El Toro.

The Chargers won’t be able to play tortoise if they want to pull the upset.

(Photos courtesy of Dr. Peter Nueshul)


Harvard-Westlake….2  1  1  2 — 6

Dos Pueblos…………0  2  2  3 — 7

Goals—DP: Graham 1, Cleary 2, Shoemaker 1, Kistler 2, Racich 1. Goalie saves — Wollert 9. Records — DP 23-5, HW 17-11.

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