By Joe Naiman
For most of the first half of the Nov. 9 boys water polo playoff match at the Encinitas YMCA, Ramona High School’s team was keeping up with La Costa Canyon.
A pair of exclusion penalties early in the third period gave the Mavericks the cushion they needed to take an eventual 16-11 victory over the Bulldogs in the CIF Division II first-round playoff game.
“It took us from a 6-7 game to a 6-10 game,” said Coach Donnie Williams. “After that we were trying to catch up and trying to close the gap.”
Last year the Mavericks were in Division I, and Ramona and La Costa Canyon have never been in the same league, so this was Williams’ first time at the Encinitas YMCA pool.
“Hard to believe I haven’t been to a pool yet in this county,” Williams said. “It an indoor pool, which is kind of interesting. It’s a little louder than you expect.”
The indoor pool can also affect arched passes or shots.
“We almost had a shot that hit the roof,” Williams said.
The Nov. 7 playoff selection and seeding meeting ranked La Costa Canyon sixth in Division II while giving Ramona the 11th seed. The Mavericks scored the game’s first two goals, Ramona scored the next two, and the score was tied at 4-4 after the first period.
“They went up, we caught them again, they went up, we caught them again,” Williams said.
The Mavericks scored the first goal of the second quarter before Ramona evened the score at 5-5. La Costa Canyon took a 7-5 lead before the Bulldogs closed out scoring in the first half.
“Our guys were ready to play with them,” Williams said. “I think the guys played well. They felt pretty good about themselves after the game.”
Ramona goalie Isaac Gross gave up the 16 goals but also made 11 saves.
“They had three really hard shooters,” Williams said.
Zach Lane and Michael Talento led the Bulldogs with three goals apiece, Ted Dean scored twice, and Spenser Jones, Pat Kettle, and Nick Brierton each put one ball into the net. All are seniors.
Talento and Jones each had two steals against La Costa Canyon while Kettle, sophomore Jesse Reiling, and senior Christian Rajcic each recorded one steal. Dean and Brierton had a field block apiece.
The loss gave Ramona a final season record of 9-21, including a Palomar League mark of 0-10.