Ventura dunks DP with two seconds left, 11-10

Barring a major upset, Dos Pueblos will have to share this year’s Channel League boys water polo crown.

Ventura’s Devin Mefford threaded a shot through the DP defense with just two seconds remaining on Wednesday, lifting the visiting Cougars to a thrilling 11-10 win in a battle of two heavyweight programs.

The Cougars are literally heavyweights.

“It was a really physical game. Ventura’s always big. They’ve got a 6-5 or 6-6 guy that’s just a beast,” said DP junior Chase Racich, who led the way with five goals.

“It’s kind of a speed team versus a really really powerful, over-sized team,” added coach Chris Parrish.

Kevin Cappon added three goals and Christian Terpening had two — both at critical points at the end of the third and fourth quarters. Brady Moore had 14 saves in the cage, all of them crucial. Mefford’s winner, however, was rocketed through traffic and into the back of the net.

Ventura's Devin Mefford shoots the game-winner through the DP defense with just seconds remaining.

Ventura's Devin Mefford shoots the game-winner through the DP defense with just seconds remaining.

“The clock was running out and there was no time to get a foul, so I just kinda shot it, nothing special,” said Mefford. “This feels good to win. They’re definitely gonna be good next year because they’re all juniors, but this feels good right now.”

Dos Pueblos (20-7, 6-1) has just one game remaining, against San Marcos, while Ventura (5-1 Channel League) will play the Royals and Buena before heading to the playoffs. If both teams win out, they will each have one loss in the Channel League and share the championship. Parrish said he expected the two teams to swap places in the CIF polls, with Ventura going to No. 5 and DP moving down to No. 6.

Dos Pueblos goalie Brady Moore

Dos Pueblos goalie Brady Moore

Ventura had a 2-1 lead after the first quarter, but Racich struck first with 5:12 left in the second to even things up. With 1:55 to go in the half, Derek Shoemaker launched a pass that went the length of the pool and landed perfectly in front of Cappon, who buried it to give DP at 3-2 lead. Ventura, however, scored twice before the break to take a one-goal lead into the half.

Cappon tied it up early in the third and Racich put away a beautiful backhand, no-look shot to give the hosts a 5-4 lead with 5:28 left in the period. The Cougars tied it up 18 seconds later, but Racich responded with a looping lob that went in from about seven meters out and another backhand that trickled into the corner of the goal which made it 7-5.

Ventura responded yet again with two goals to tie it up, but Cappon made a nice pass from the right side of the net over to Terpening, who put it away to give DP an 8-7 lead heading into the fourth.

Moore attempted to make three long passes to sprinting teammates in the match that went just a few feet too far and led to steals by Cougars goalie Josh Frankhauser.


“We were really unfortunate in that regard, but those are chances we had to take. You’ve gotta make those passes and try to get an easy goal,” said Parrish.

One of the stolen longballs came at the start of the fourth and led to a goal by Ventura’s Clint Howard. Cappon fired back with a go-ahead score that beat the shot-clock with 4:59 to go.

DP huddles around coach Chris Parrish during the final timeout.

DP huddles around coach Chris Parrish during the final timeout.

The sizable, polo-savvy crowd was loving it.

Ventura’s Josh Tice scored two of his five goals in back-to-back fashion, putting the Cougars up 10-9 with 2:15 to go. Terpening scored the equalizer with 1:46.

As Ventura drove down on its next possession, Parrish yelled “let’s steal the ball!” to his team, and Conner Cleary did just that. One final pass that went a bit too long gave it right back, however, and gave the Cougars the ball with 30 seconds left.

Moore made a great block that sent the ball rocketing over the goal and out of bounds with 10 ticks left, setting up Mefford’s heroics on the final play.

“We were playing pretty solid water polo. A lot of stuff just wasn’t going in the cage, but stuff happens… We just have to take it and use it to get more energy and practice harder,” said Racich.


Ventura…2 2 3 4 — 11

Dos Pueblos…1  2  5 2 — 10

Goals — V: Mefford 2, Flint 1, Tice 5, Allen 2, CHoward 1. DP: Racich 5, Cappon 3, Terpening 2.

Goalie saves — V: Frankhauser 13, DP: Moore 14.