Unable to find the net in the opening half of a nonleague game Tuesday against Montebello, the Huntington Beach High boys' water polo team came up with a strong second half to earn a 6-4 home win.
Huntington, the No. 9 ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, trailed Montebello, the No. 7 team in Division 3, 4-2 at the half.
A 4-0 second half by the HB Oilers followed.
Center/forward Matt Cook scored twice. Freshman Patrick Saunders and sophomore Nolan Strout, splitting time in goal, recorded nine and eight saves, respectively.
Saunders and Stout were playing in place of regular starting goalie Alex Wolf, said Huntington Coach Brian Anderson who said he "gave Wolf a rest."
"The team showed integrity and grit by coming back from two down and shutting them out in the second half, great defensive effort," he said.
The victory moved Huntington to 12-4 overall, and was the 98th career victory for Anderson, who is in his fifth year as head coach.
In previous action, Huntington went 3-2 overall and finished 10th at the South Coast Tournament. The Oilers beat San Clemente, 8-7, dropped an 8-6 match to Corona del Mar (No. 5, Division 1), then beat Los Alamitos, 5-4, and Laguna Beach (No. 5, Division 2), 8-7, then lost, 11-10, to Dos Pueblos (No. 3, Division 2).
Cook scored several goals and drew exclusions during the tournament. Wolf had 28 saves in the Corona del Mar game, Anderson said.
"A lot of guys contributed to our wins and tough losses," Anderson said. "Overall I was very pleased with the team's play. We learned some valuable lessons that will pass our training for the next couple of weeks."
Huntington plays host to Harvard-Westlake in a 4 p.m. nonleague match Thursday. The Oilers head to La Jolla Saturday to take on The Bishops at 4 p.m. in another nonleague match.
In other boys' water polo action, Edison took its record to 7-1 Monday by rolling to a 15-6 nonleague victory over visiting La Habra at Huntington Beach High. The Chargers opened up a 6-1 lead in the first quarter to take command on the Highlanders.
Edison Coach Diggy Riley called it a solid, "team" victory.
"It was a very long and taxing weekend for the boys, so it was nice to see them come out of the gates so strong," Riley said.
The Chargers were coming off a three-day performance at the South Coast Tournament. They started the tournament as the No. 20 seed, and finished 17th.
Edison was edged, 9-8, in its opener by Northwood, then won its next four games against top-rated teams. The Chargers beat Granite Hills, 17-6, Ventura (No. 7, Division 2), 11-10, The Bishops (No. 5, CIF-San Diego Section Division 1), 8-7, and Punahou, the top-ranked team in Hawaii, 11-10.
"We battled a number of adversities throughout the entire weekend and still found ways to win," Riley said. "We trailed many of the games early, but as we have done so many times this year, the boys never gave up. They believe they will win every game no matter who they are playing or what the score is.
"The star this weekend was the team. We played unselfish as a group and the boys are really understanding what it means to be a true team, and the benefits that come with this attitude."
Edison starts play Thursday at the Villa Park Tournament which runs through Saturday. The Chargers are the top seed in their bracket and the tournament's No. 3 overall seed.
Riley said transfer students Ryan Warde (Newport Harbor) and Alex Nathan (Servite) become eligible to play starting Monday.
"We are so excited to have them eligible," Riley said, noting the pair will play their first game of the season Wednesday, when the Chargers take on Huntington Beach in the Sunset League opener for both teams.
Huntington Beach won six of seven matches last weekend and finished in second place at the Beach Cities Invitational in La Jolla.
The Oilers won by sweep against Olympian, Rio Mesa, West Hills and Scripps Ranch, and defeated The Bishops and Westview in three sets in the best-of-three, to reach the tourney final.
In the title match, Huntington fell in two sets to Vista Murrieta.
Senior middle blocker/opposite Cheyenne Rankin and senior libero Gianna Guinasso were named to the all-tournament team, and senior Kendra Koelsch was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Setter.
The tournament, which started Friday and concluded Saturday, drew 41 teams.
"I thought we played well throughout the tournament," Huntington Coach Craig Pazanti said. "We had different people step up in different matches and it was nice to see a balanced attack."
In a previous match, Huntington swept host San Clemente, 25-23, 25-23, 27-25. Rankin led the way with 14 kills, senior middle blocker Ally Forsberg had nine kills, and outside hitter Ashley Stevens had five kills for the Oilers.
Huntington, 16-4 overall, plays host to Newport Harbor at 5:45 p.m. Thursday in its Sunset League opener.
"The Sunset League is always a grind," Pazanti said. "You have several good teams, and you need to show up every night or you will get beat.
"It will be a tough match on Thursday. Newport is always a well-coached team, we know they will be prepared, especially coming off a battle with [Corona del Mar] last week."
CIF Weekly Rankings
Football: Edison (No. 2, Southwest Division); Fountain Valley (No. 6, Southwest Division); Huntington Beach (tie-No. 10, Southwest Division).
Boys' Water Polo: Huntington Beach (No. 9, Division 1); Ocean View (No. 9, Division 7).
Boys' Cross-Country: Fountain Valley (No. 7, Division 1).