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Agoura Misses by Fraction in Final

Water polo: Top-seeded Santa Barbara escapes, 7-6.


LONG BEACH — And they say football is a game of inches.

That's what it came down to for Agoura High in its 7-6 loss Wednesday night to Santa Barbara in the Southern Section Division II girls' water polo championship game at Belmont Plaza Pool.

"Agoura gave us a great game . . . everything we could handle," Coach Mark Walsh of Santa Barbara said.

In a see-saw battle that featured three lead changes and five ties, top-seeded Santa Barbara prevailed on two key plays that could have gone either way in the second half to win its third consecutive division title.

The first allowed Santa Barbara to tie it, 4-4, on the first goal of the second half. Ann Adelman's shot was blocked by goalie Michelle Rozzen, but a referee ruled the entire ball passed the plane of the goal.

Later, with Agoura trailing, 7-6, the Dons clinched the victory when De De Perram's shot glanced off the left post and into the hands of goalie Erin Conaway with 33 seconds left.

"Two inches to the right and that ball is in the goal," Coach Jason Rosenthal of Agoura said.

Second-seeded Agoura (21-7) went into the game knowing it was possibly a year away from winning a title since the Chargers start only one senior and Santa Barbara starts only seniors.

But Perram, Agoura's leading scorer who converted one of only four shots, believes the Chargers played well enough to upset the favorite.

"We played much better than them," Perram said. "I mean they play this kind of [good] competition all the time. We played the best water polo we've ever played as a team and we deserved to win."

Rosenthal wasted little time preparing his junior-laden team for next season, calling the players over for an intense chat immediately after the final horn.

"I just wanted to tell them to remember how you feel at this moment so you don't want to feel it again next year," Rosenthal said.

The Chargers were feeling pretty good about themselves in the first half after Erica Clark and Colleen Schiman scored the last two goals of the second quarter for a 4-3 lead.

Agoura reclaimed the lead 22 seconds after Santa Barbara tied it, 4-4, on Cameron Pearce's goal in a six-on-five situation with 4:42 left in the third.

Santa Barbara (29-1) reeled off three unanswered goals in the final 1:59 for a 7-5 lead.

"Luckily we made enough plays in the third quarter to get us over the hump," Walsh said. "We've got a lot of work to do if we want to play with Agoura next year."

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