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Agoura Surfaces as Favorite by Sinking Royal

Water polo: Larsen scores with 1:05 left and Chargers turn away Highlanders in final seconds to win, 7-6.


SIMI VALLEY — It came down to six ticks on the clock, with years of tradition and history at stake.

When goalie Justin Rosa of Agoura High batted away a shot by Tyler Templeton of Royal as time expired, history was made.

Agoura came from behind to defeat Royal, 7-6, in a Marmonte League water polo opener Wednesday at Rancho Simi Community Pool, ending Royal's 31-game league winning streak.

It also ended a 12-year span in which Royal had not lost a home game and jeopardizes Royal's string of 17 consecutive years with at least a share of the league title.

"We always said that until somebody comes in here and beats Royal, the league title is theirs," said Rosa, who had seven saves, including one on a four-meter penalty shot. "Well, we beat them, the title is up for grabs."

Hans Larsen, who scored four goals for Agoura, including the game-winner with 1:05 to play, was not so eager to claim the title.

"I can't say that," he said. "It's too early. We still have to play them again. The title still belongs to Royal."

Agoura (9-7) was the last team to defeat Royal (10-6) in league play, a 12-11 victory in 1994. But Royal came back to defeat the Chargers later that season to claim its share of the title.

Royal, which defeated Agoura, 7-6, in the championship game of the San Luis Obispo tournament on Saturday, did not go under easily this time.

After coming back from deficits of 3-1 and 6-5, the Highlanders found themselves down a goal with 10 seconds remaining.

Coach Steve Snyder called a timeout, desperately searching for a way to keep the streak alive.

With six seconds on the clock, Snyder got what he wanted: Laszlo Kupan of Agoura committed an ejection foul, giving the Highlanders a six-on-five advantage.

Templeton got the ball near the goal, and it seemed the Royal mystique would work its magic again, but when Templeton fired, Rosa was there.

"I was so nervous," Rosa said. "My only thoughts were, 'Legs, don't fail me now.' "

Larsen put the Chargers ahead to stay by sprinting behind the Royal defense for a fastbreak goal. Mike Campbell did the same four minutes earlier to knot the score, 5-5.

Snyder, speaking as a losing coach at his home pool for the first time since 1986, was understandably at a loss for words.

"I'm a competitor," he said. "I'm extremely disappointed by this."

On the other side, the celebration carried on.

"I feel half the weight off of me," said Coach Jason Rosenthal of Agoura. "But we've done it before. Now if we can beat them a second time, that would be an accomplishment."

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