LA CAÑADA — Embarking on one of the program’s more eventful spans in quite a while, the Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo team was both poised and focused in Prep League action Wednesday afternoon.
The Rebels maintained a level of discipline, even after scoring all the goals they needed in the first quarter of what was a 24-5 victory over visiting La Salle.
The victory was the first for the CIF Southern Section Division V eighth-ranked Rebels (9-7, 3-0) in what is a five-game-in-eight-day stretch that continues Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at league rival Webb.
PHOTOS: Flintridge Prep v. La Salle Prep League boys water polo
“We haven’t had much action this month, in fact it’s been like three games over the last three weeks,” said Rebels Coach Dan Hare, whose previous match was a 30-5 win over Milken Community exactly a week earlier. “So, it’s good to get back in the pool and improve.”
The Rebels iced the contest in the third quarter in outscoring the Lancers (3-14, 0-3) by a 5-1 margin in taking a 16-5 lead.
After committing turnovers on its first two possessions, Flintridge Prep got on track thanks to a counter-attack led by reserve goalie Anton Verbinski (five saves), who lobbed a pass down pool to teammate Diego Delgado (three goals).
Delgado fired a shot past Lancers goalie Jackson Ratkovich (eight saves) for a score that put the Rebels ahead, 12-4, with 5:42 remaining in the third.
The goal was followed by two consecutive scores from senior Ethan Vandeventer, the first coming on a steal and breakaway and the second created on a steal and assist from Delgado.
“We’re strongest offensively when we’re playing shut-down defense,” said Vandeventer, who led all players with highs in goals (seven) and steals (six). “We take a lot of pride in holding down opponents.”
Flintridge Prep’s strong defensive effort in the quarter was mirrored throughout the contest, as the Rebels forced 27 turnovers, 23 of which came via steals.
While La Salle responded with a six-on-five goal from Alex Corwin with 2:10 remaining in the third, sophomore Sean King added two of his three goals to put the Rebels ahead, 16-5, by quarter’s close.
Even with the score out of hand, the Rebels did not lose focus.
“Hey, we’re only three years removed from having those types of rebuilding seasons La Salle is having. We have total respect for [Lancers Coach] Dave [Ireland] and understand what he’s trying to do,” Hare said. “If you look at La Salle, they were well-coached and competitive in that first half.”
While the contest was a total mismatch for the visiting Lancers, La Salle responded to a 7-1 first-quarter deficit by forcing two straight turnovers in the second quarter that translated into goals from Phoenix O’Shea and Corwin to close its deficit to 7-3 with 5:59 left.
The goals led to a timeout from the Rebels.
“We had a little letdown in the second quarter, but came back and really jumped the lanes and pressured La Salle,” said Rebels senior defender William Newman, who tallied five steals.
Vandeventer connected on a five-meter penalty with 3:02 left, while Flintridge Prep scored four more goals in taking an 11-4 lead into halftime.
The most spectacular of those goals came just before time expired as senior John Treinen (four steals and three assists) stole possession with two seconds left and fired a three-quarter-pool shot that skipped past Ratkovich.
Flintridge Prep starting goalie Alejandro Hirsch Marin added five saves, while junior Miles Harber chipped in three goals.