It wasn't pretty, but Diggy Riley will take it.
The Edison boys' water polo coach was frustrated — and his expression showed it — as he watched his Chargers flutter away several first-half opportunities during Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 wild-card game against visiting Buena.
Riley, however, was pleased with his team's second-half performance, which pushed the Chargers to a 9-6 victory at Golden West College and into a first-round match against top-seed Mater Dei on Wednesday.
Edison outscored Buena, 6-3, in the second half to record its first postseason victory since 2002.
The Chargers also were making their first playoff appearance in two years and hosting their first home game since 2002.
Both the Chargers and Bulldogs were at-large entries into the Division 1 playoffs.
"An ugly CIF win is still a CIF win," Riley said. "We missed a lot of opportunities in that first half, which was frustrating. We could have had a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, but didn't convert on several occasions.
"Still we did a real nice job defensively in the second half. We gave up a couple of weird goals and offensively, we opened things up after we had been clogged up a bit. A big key in the second half was the kick outs we had."
Buena rallied from a 2-1 first-quarter deficit to go up, 3-2, in the second quarter before Edison's Kyle Spreeman scored to tie the score at 3 at the half. The score remained tied through the first 4:34 of the third quarter, until Edison's Brent Bazzell broke the tie for good when he skipped a shot into goal with Edison holding a 6-on-5 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, a great save by Edison goalie John Mroch led to a score by Tony Morelli that gave the Chargers a 7-4 advantage.
Mroch had a tremendous performance in goal for Edison. He had three saves in each of the third and fourth quarter and finished with 12 saves.
"He's phenomenal," Riley said of Mroch. "He's the reason we're sitting where we are right now."
In a Sunset League finale Nov. 3, Edison scored a 5-3 victory against rival Fountain Valley at Newport Harbor High. The win qualified Edison for CIF.
"We set a team goal at the beginning of the season to qualify for CIF in Division 1, which we knew was going to be a major challenge and required us to play as a team and work harder than ever before," said Riley, who improved to 8-1 against Fountain Valley as head coach. "The Sunset League has three of the top teams in the county in Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach, so the theme of the season was that we needed to have a .500 win-loss record to qualify and make sure we finished at least fourth in league.
In addition to Edison playing at Mater Dei, Huntington Beach (Sunset No. 3) played at Santa Barbara (Channel League No. 2) in another first-round Division 1 game Wednesday. Golden West League runner-up Ocean View opens Division 7 play today at Mt. Baldy League champion Don Lugo.
The scores from the Edison, Huntington Beach and Ocean View games weren't available at press time.
In the opening round of the Division 1-AA playoffs, Sunset League teams Edison and Huntington Beach picked up first-round victories Tuesday.
Edison, the No. 3 team out of the Sunset League and the division's sixth-ranked team, swept visiting Flintridge Sacred Heart (Mission League No. 2), 25-15, 25-20, 25-22. The Chargers advanced to a second-round match today and will host Marmonte League champ Thousand Oaks, which swept El Toro (South Coast League at-large), 25-13, 25-14, 25-11.