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BOYS' WATER POLO

Bad Call Overshadows Great Game

November 07, 2000|MELANIE NEFF

It was an intense game. It always is when Foothill and Villa Park meet to decide the Century League title. Unfortunately, last Friday's game was overshadowed by a protest.

Outstanding performances by the county's two best goalkeepers, Foothill's Ian Elliott and Villa Park's Jared Jones, faded into the background along with perfectly placed shots by Villa Park's Charlie Fisher and a stifling defensive effort by Foothill in the final quarter.

Minutes after Foothill Coach Jim Brumm pulled himself, dripping wet, from the pool--after his celebratory dunking--the Knights were informed that the game might have to be replayed.

Villa Park Coach John Carcich argued that when Josh Kashuk entered the game early after a double ejection in the closing seconds of the third quarter, Foothill should not have been awarded a penalty shot that was successful. Instead, Carcich argued, Kashuk should have been ejected again.

Foothill players and fans shook their heads in disgust. Villa Park faithful blamed the outcome on the protested call.

"This game is always like this," a Foothill fan said. "It's always something. No one can just congratulate the other team on a well-played game and walk away."

Villa Park led, 7-5, before Brian Alexander scored on the disputed penalty shot, and Foothill went on to win, 9-7.

Villa Park assistant coach John Kulisich said the referees admitted their mistake in a written report following the game, stating that Villa Park's contention was correct. However, league principals denied the protest the next morning and the victory stood for Foothill.

While Alexander's penalty shot pulled the Knights to within one, it was Foothill's defense that turned the tide in the fourth quarter. Foothill forced six turnovers on the Spartans' first seven possessions. The Spartans took only one shot until the final minute, and it was blocked by Elliott, who recorded 12 saves.

With 58 seconds remaining, Foothill was hit with two immediate exclusion fouls on Blake Benjamin and Blake Seymour. With a two-man advantage Villa Park failed to score, as Kevin Logan blocked a shot by Matt Herrera and Bobby Long's shot was tipped wide.

With the victory, Foothill jumped from No. 7 in the Southern Section Division I polls to No. 3, earning the third seed in Thursday's first round of the playoffs. Villa Park fell from No. 2 to the fourth seed.

If the Spartans win Thursday's first-round match against Long Beach Poly, and they should, they will most likely face South Coast League champion El Toro (16-11) in the second round. Foothill could face North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake in the second round, a team they edged, 8-7, in the fifth-place game of the S&R Sport Cup.

BRACKETS ANNOUNCED

As expected, Newport Harbor (23-5) earned the No. 1 seed in Division I, and a semifinal match with the Villa Park-El Toro winner is likely. Long Beach Wilson was seeded second and should meet San Clemente (17-7) in the second round.

Division II, an All-Orange County bracket, is led by top-seeded Corona del Mar (19-5). Los Alamitos (14-13) is second. The Pacific Coast League's second-place team, University (16-7 and ranked 10th in the county), earned the third seed over Serra League champion Santa Margarita (19-7), which is No. 8 in the county. First-round games begin Friday.

In Division VI, Brea Olinda faces Pasadena Poly in the first round and La Quinta plays Valencia. Wild-card games begin today.

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If you have an item or idea for the water polo report, fax it to (714) 966-5663 or e-mail melanie.neff@latimes.com

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BOYS' WATER POLO TOP 10

Orange County Coaches' Poll

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Pos. School (League) Rec 1. Newport Harbor (Sea View) 23-5 2. Corona del Mar (Pacific Coast) 19-5 3. Foothill (Century) 16-11 4. Villa Park (Century) 23-5 5. El Toro (South Coast) 16-11 6. San Clemente (South Coast) 17-7 7. Los Alamitos (Sunset) 14-13 8. Santa Margarita (Serra) 18-7 9. Servite (Serra) 22-6 10. University (Pacific Coast) 16-7

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