By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys water polo team has played eight games this season and six of them have been decided by one goal.
The Bulldogs were 4-2 in those one-goal matches and 5-3 overall following an 8-7 win Sept. 10 against La Costa Canyon at the Encinitas YMCA, and a 5-4 loss Sept. 12 at Valhalla.
“We’ve got to play hard at all times,” said Coach Donnie Williams.
Ramona, La Costa Canyon, and Valhalla are all in Division II for CIF playoff purposes, so the Bulldogs’ win over La Costa Canyon could have seeding implications.
“It was a big game for us,” Williams said.
Ramona scored first, the Mavericks scored the next goal, and the score was 2-2 after one period. The Bulldogs took a 4-2 lead before settling for a 4-3 halftime cushion. The two second-quarter goals did not include a shot which went through the net and was declared a goal during subsequent video viewing but not by the referee.
A Ramona goal in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead, but La Costa Canyon created a 6-6 tie by the end of the period. The fourth quarter saw La Costa Canyon’s first lead as well as the first time the Mavericks had scored the quarter’s initial goal, but that score in the first two minutes of the period was countered by Cory Davison’s tying goal on a cross-pass.
The winning goal was scored after a loose ball.
“We kind of pressured the goalie,” Williams said.
That created an empty net, and Vinnie Talento’s shot went into that unguarded target.
The Mavericks’ final shot fell victim to Garrett Klem’s field block with seven seconds left.
“There were some big opportunities on both sides to score,” Williams said.
Jesse Reiling had four goals, two steals, and two field blocks. Levi Vermeulen led the Bulldogs with three steals, and goalie Taylor Holas had two steals. Holas and Jack Sundberg shared time in the nets with Holas making seven saves and Sundberg recording five. Davison had a total of two goals while Wyatt Jeffers joined Talento in placing one shot into the net. Talento added a field block and a steal, and Jeffers and Noah Lagoe recorded a steal apiece.
“It was a good game,” Williams said.
Five of La Costa Canyon’s goals were scored on man-up penalty situations; the Bulldogs only stopped two of the seven power plays and were scoreless on their own three extra-player opportunities.
“We have to be a little more successful than that,” Williams said.
The Bulldogs’ game at Valhalla included three Ramona goals in the first 90 seconds, giving Ramona a 3-0 lead, but the Bulldogs did not score again until the fourth period.
“I expected us to be a lot stronger than that,” Williams said.
Ramona took 26 shots against the Norsemen.
“We were just taking too many shots in bad positions, not quality shots,” said Williams.
Ramona retained a 3-0 lead after one quarter, but the score was 3-2 at halftime.
“That was a huge momentum,” Williams said of Valhalla’s second-period scores.
The Norsemen tied the game with two minutes left in the third period and had a 4-3 lead at the end of the quarter. The Bulldogs tied the game early in the final period, but Valhalla scored the winning goal with 23 seconds remaining.
“The boys were upset. They felt they should have played better,” Williams said.
Ramona’s next game will be played Sept. 25 at Westview.