The Palos Verdes boys water polo team had a six-goal lead heading in the fourth period of its Bay League opener against Mira Costa on Wednesday.
As expected, things would get tighter on the scoreboard.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Palos Verdes coach Patrick O’Brien said. “It didn’t matter what the score was, they’re never going to go away. We know they’re a good team.”
The Mustangs began the fourth period with four consecutive goals, three from Jake Carter and one from Matthew Fry, to get within two goals with less than four minutes left. But Aidan Wattson scored two of the final three goals of the game to help PV hold on for a 13-8 victory.
Wattson led PV (7-7, 1-0) with six goals.
“We put some opportunities away in the first half and that made the score what it was,” O’Brien said, “but never in my mind did I not think they were going to come back and battle. We knew it was going to happen.”
The first half belonged to the Sea Kings. Wattson’s second goal of the first quarter came with 23.5 seconds remaining and gave PV a 5-1 lead.
In the second, Nick Baumann scored with 1:37 left for an 8-3 PV lead heading into halftime.
Mira Costa was a bit unlucky in the quarter, with two shots hitting the crossbar.
“I was happy that we started strong, but obviously, a lot to work on,” O’Brien said.
Mira Costa opened league play Tuesday with a win over Peninsula.
Mira Costa coach Jon Reichardt was pleased with his team’s second-half performance, which included the Mustangs cutting the Sea Kings’ lead to 10-8 with 2:27 left in the game.
“The first quarter wasn’t very good,” Reichardt said. “But I thought that I was pretty happy with it (the performance). This time of the season, I think we’re good. I’m pretty happy. We didn’t give up. Everyone fought hard. The guys are working hard. It was a great game, I thought both teams played well.”
Carter led Mira Costa with six goals. Anthony D’Ambra and Williams Criley scored two goals apiece for PV.
The teams are scheduled to meet again on Oct. 24 at Palos Verdes.
This match was only the start of the challenges each team will face in the Bay League. Both coaches said they expect to have to battle Redondo and Peninsula, too.
PV and Mira Costa are ranked 10th and 16th, respectively, in this week’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2 poll. Redondo is sixth in Division 3 and defeated the CIF-SS Division 3 defending champion, Servite, 13-11 on Tuesday.
PV faces Peninsula on Monday and Redondo on Tuesday.
Mira Costa will receive a boost to its lineup next week as transfer Kai Scarlett becomes eligible when the sit-out period ends.
“We still have plenty more games (in league),” O’Brien said. “Redondo is good, Peninsula is better than we thought. … This is one game and we’re happy with that, but there’s plenty more.”