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Dos Pueblos Torpedoes Ventura

Water polo: Chargers' precise shooting helps hand Cougars their first defeat, 7-6.

October 11, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — What would it take to score against one of best goalies in the region and beat the undefeated Ventura High boys' water polo team in its home waters?

Dos Pueblos solved the riddle Tuesday with pinpoint shooting and tenacious defense to hand Ventura its first loss, 7-6, Tuesday in a Channel League game at Ventura.

In a tight battle between two of the top four ranked teams in Southern Section Division IV, the Cougars (8-1, 2-1 in league play) controlled the game in the first half and owned a 4-3 edge at halftime.

Dos Pueblos looked sluggish on offense in the first quarter, taking only three shots. But clearly the Chargers were improving by the minute.

"Our defense was really tentative [in the first quarter]," Coach Danelle Little of Dos Pueblos said. "They were being spectators. They weren't playing smart on offense, seeing what was open and running the picks that we run."

Ventura Coach Joe Abing especially liked his chances at halftime because he knew his last line of defense was David Miller, one of the toughest goalies in the area.

Dos Pueblos knew it too. So the Chargers simply raised the bar.

"We knew this was a good goalie and we told the guys going in that the shots had to be perfect," Little said.

"But they practice against a good goalie so that helps."

The No. 4-ranked Chargers (13-6, 3-0) tied it, 4-4, on a short-range bounce shot by Andrew Schoneberger early in the third quarter.

No. 3 Ventura, which scored only one goal in each of the final three quarters, reclaimed the lead with a two-meter lob by Nick Wagner with 1:54 left in the third quarter.

Dos Pueblos capitalized on its only man-up opportunity and tied it, 5-5, when Jeff Ranta scored from seven meters with 5:38 remaining.

Hugh Montgomery, who had three goals, scored a go-ahead goal on a lob from the right wing, just over the outstretched hands of Miller less than a minute later.

"I felt we sustained our defense, but Dos Pueblos hit some incredible shots," Ventura Coach Joe Abing said.

"I think they had three shots that couldn't get any better. I have a phenomenal goalie and if those shots weren't perfect, he would have gotten to them."

Ventura tied it, 6-6, with 1:52 to play when Wagner converted a four-meter penalty shot for his third goal.

But that would be the last goal for the Cougars, who hit six of 18 shots.

"Offensively we definitely struggled," Abing said. "We haven't been challenged like this this year."

Another perfect lob from the left wing into the right corner of the cage by Ranta provided Dos Pueblos with the winning goal with 1:03 remaining.

When Pat Kuga of the Chargers stole the ball from the hole set with 24 seconds remaining, Ventura's fate was sealed.

Miller finished with nine saves.

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