The end came so quickly in the Southern Section Division II boys' water polo championship that even the players in the pool weren't sure exactly how the winning sequence happened.
There's no doubt, however, about the end result: Servite's Dane Jensen scored off a rebound an instant before the horn in overtime to give Servite a 13-12 victory over Marina.
"I thought there was time left," Jensen said, "but I looked up and saw double zero."
What a sweet sight that must have been for the top-seeded Friars (27-3), who were pushed as hard as they have been by a Division II team this season.
Marina (25-4), which lost to Servite by five goals twice during the regular season, had the Friars foundering early and led 7-4 at halftime. And the Vikings didn't fold after Servite regained its balance with a 4-0 third quarter.
"We stuck to our game plan and did everything we could," Marina Coach Dave Carlson said. "We played our hearts out, but Servite is the best team in Division II, hands down."
Marina made it as difficult as possible for the Friars. The Vikings shut down Servite's leading scorer, two-meter man Michael Kim. Kim scored one goal, a shot from outside seven meters after a reset that surprised Marina goalkeeper Mark Armstrong and gave Servite a 11-10 lead with 26 seconds left in regulation.
Marina tied it with 12 seconds left on an outstanding play. Jeff Larson made a perfect pass to Rusty Keil, who despite being sandwiched by two defenders poked the ball over the goal line.
Marina scored in the first minute of overtime on a tip-in by Justin Fassnacht off a sweet pass by Keil, but Jensen tied it on Servite's next possession with a shot from the hole. Fassnacht and David Wagner each scored three goals for the second-seeded Vikings.
In the first half, Servite had adjusted to Marina's defense by making Jensen the primary two-meter man instead of Kim. Jensen responded with a game-high five goals.
"[Kim's] such a fierce competitor," Servite Coach Jim Sprague said. "I hated to do something like that to him, but that's why Jensen got five goals. If we were a little more patient, he would have scored 10."
His fifth was a tribute to his tenacity, even though he wasn't entirely clear on what occurred before the winning goal. He said he thought he took three shots--one that bounced off the bar, one blocked by Armstrong and one that went in.
But based on interviews with other players, this is what likely happened: With time running down, Servite's Jarrod Cruzat made a crossing pass to Michael Rustemeyer, whose hard shot was blocked by Armstrong. Jensen got the rebound in the hole, his shot was blocked by Armstrong and it bounced to Jensen again. This time his shot found the net . . . barely.
"I had my arm up," Armstrong said, "and it went right by the inside of my elbow."
It was the second section title for Servite--the Friars won the 2-A title in 1982--and the fifth for Sprague. He won four at Sunny Hills, the most recent in 1986.