HUNTINGTON BEACH — In a tense battle between neighboring rivals Wednesday, it was anybody's game early in the third quarter of the Sunset League boys' water polo opener between Huntington Beach and Edison.
The teams were deadlocked at 6-6 less than a minute into the second half but that's when the game shifted gears. Huntington proceeded to go on a 6-0 scoring spree to end the game, and came away with a 12-6 victory before a standing-room-only crowd at the Ocean View High pool.
Huntington, which improved to 12-8 overall, went into the lead for good on a lob shot into the right corner of the Edison cage by junior attacker Dillon Morely. The goal put the Oilers up, 7-6, and it came nearly three minutes after Edison sophomore defender Dane Estrella netted a goal to tie the score.
The Oilers steadily pulled away from there and upped their lead to 8-6 with 2:56 left in the third quarter when senior attacker Jovan Jeremic converted a penalty shot.
Huntington held a 10-6 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Huntington goalie Alex Wolf was outstanding in the second half. He continually thwarted Edison's offensive assault, and the Oilers defense forced the Chargers to shooting from the outside over the final two quarters.
The Oilers came up with a key defensive sequence while holding an 8-6 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter. Estrella had an outside shot blocked by Wolf and moments later, Wolf stopped a shot by Alec Niederland. At the other end of the pool, the Oilers scored in a man-up situation, to extend the lead to 9-6.
Wolf registered 21 saves in a performance Huntington Coach Brian Anderson said was "phenomenal."
"He stopped six of their eight man exclusion advantages, which is unbelievable," Anderson said. "We, on the other hand, were four of seven in man-up situations, and that was the ballgame. We worked a ton on those situations at practice.
"At the beginning of the game, we were not playing well on defense. Edison has really good center-forward play, and they were scoring on us. We adjusted our defense and really locked down on them in the second half. Matt Cook was a man-beast today in the middle and drew three exclusions for us."
The score was tied, 3-3, after the first quarter, and the score was knotted on two more occasions in the opening half. Morely scored from the left-side with 2:46 left in the second quarter to break a 5-all tie, a goal that put the Oilers on top, 6-5, at the half.
"We came into the game knowing we wanted to score high-and-low on them, and we scored on five skip shots that went under his (Wolf's) arms," Edison Coach Diggy Riley said after his team slipped to 7-9 overall. "We had a great first half, and a great start to the second half, but then we got away from our game. Huntington forced us to shoot from the outside in the second half, and we struggled.."
Morely and Jeremic both scored four goals to lead all scorers. Troy Oates scored three goals and Justin Harrison scored twice for Edison.
Edison travels to La Habra for a 3 p.m. nonleague match Friday with the Highlanders. Huntington travels to San Diego County Saturday to face The Bishop's School in a 4 p.m. nonleague match.
In another Sunset League opener Wednesday, Fountain Valley downed Marina, 11-2, in the first game of a league triple header at Ocean View. Dalton Kenefick scored three goals and Connor Reilly, Reza Alli, Chris Goldsby and Erik Lindsey each scored twice, and Chad Halsted had 12 saves, for the Barons. Logan Montgomery scored both Marina goals.
In the third game Wednesday, Newport Harbor edged Los Alamitos, 8-7.