Water Polo: La Jolla’s The Bishop’s School and Cathedral Catholic High earn berths in CIF boys’ final


By Rick LeBeau

Continuing performances that earned them the first and second seeds in this year’s Division III boys’ water polo CIF playoff brackets, The Bishop’s School of La Jolla and Cathedral Catholic High School of San Diego took different routes to the finals in the Nov. 13, 2012 semifinal matches at the Coggan Aquatic Complex at La Jolla High School.

In the evening’s first game, Tommy Higginson scored out of two meters to put the Knights on the board in their second possession of the game. It took a couple minutes longer for the Vikings to score, but Jimmy LeBeau finally tied the game halfway through the first quarter. The defenses continued to dominate the rest of the quarter, until the Knights’ offense suddenly broke through with goals on four consecutive possessions, making it look effortless, to go up 5-1 with 3:45 remaining in the half.

La Jolla was not about to concede, however, and came storming back with three goals of their own in the next minute. Higginson then scored the half’s final goal and the two teams resumed their defensive struggle for almost a full quarter of play.

Viktor Roble put home the first of his two goals to once again put the Knights up by three, and once again the determined Vikings scored twice in two trips down the tank to pull within one. With just under a minute remaining in the third quarter, Richard Daly gave the Knights that two-goal lead again.

After Brock Macelli scored his second goal of the game to make it 8-7 in favor of the Knights with four minutes to go, Bishop’s got back-to-back goals from Wrobel and Stephen Tifft to once again take a commanding lead with just three minutes remaining. LeBeau then scored his third and final goal of the game for the Vikings, who still had hope with 1:50 remaining in regulation. La Jolla’s defense then did its job, setting up a chance to pull within one with a minute to go, but Cole Martinez’ laser shot from the left wing was blocked high in the air by Caleb Schultz to preserve the final margin of victory as the Knights finally exhaled, escaping with a 10-8 victory.

According to Coach Jim Fales, the key to the game was Higginson’s ability to score early out of the center position, forcing La Jolla’s defense to make adjustments that allowed the Knights’ outside scorers to have more uncontested shots. He also singled out Shultz’ play in goal, with a dozen saves.

In the evening’s second game, Cathedral came out ready to play, and thoroughly outmanned and outgunned a Coronado team missing key players due to illness. Jacob Fujioka got the Dons on the board with the first quarter’s only goal, but after Nado tied the game on a 5-meter penalty shot by Aaron Polk, Cathedral put up three more goals and led 4-2 at intermission.

They were never headed again, as they built their lead over the course of the second half, extending it eventually to the final margin of 10-3.

Cody Smith and Jordan Colina led the Dons with three goals each, while Grant Curry and Dylan Smith each contributed to the offensive barrage as well.

At press time, Cathedral and Bishop’s met for the fourth time this season on Nov. 17 at Coggan. Bishop’s won the first two matches, while Cathedral took the most recent meeting a few weeks ago. It should be as tight as last year’s semifinal tilt between the two teams, won by Bishop’s in sudden death overtime, 13-12.