The chase for the Sunset League boys' water polo championship launched Oct. 9 and in a key game to start the league season, Huntington Beach scored a 10-6 victory over Edison at Newport Harbor High.
Not only did the victory allowed the Oilers to start league play 1-0, it also presented Coach Brian Anderson with his 100th career win with the Huntington program.
Edison took a 3-1 lead in the match but Huntington (14-5 overall) scored six unanswered goals to pull out to a 7-3 advantage in the second half. The Chargers closed to 8-6 in the fourth but the Oilers scored the final two goals of the game.
The Oilers and Chargers are ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
Anderson said his team played "stellar defense." Goalie Alex Wolf had 10 saves and two steals, Matt Cook scored three goals and drew two exclusions, senior Dillon Morely scored three times from the outside, junior Noah Nelson scored twice, and freshman Matt Robert and senior Dylan Walter each scored on man-up (6-on-5) situations for the Oilers.
Huntington freshman center Quinten Osborne drew five exclusions. Anderson said his team was six of 10 on power-play situations, the best by his team this year.
"I was really happy with the way our guys never lost their composure when we went down 3-1," Anderson said. "We talked a lot about how Edison would run their game based on emotion, and that we just needed to worry about what we were going to do. It was clear at no moment did we crumble in front of a large Edison crowd. We tuned them out, and played our game.
"Our depth wore on Edison, as they subbed two players, and we subbed six, and played 12 (guys), overall. Our depth is a clear positive."
Anderson, who worked as an assistant coach at Huntington in 2006-07 before taking over as head coach in 2009, is in his fifth year with the Oilers. Each of his four previous teams have reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs, two of which have advanced to the quarterfinal round.
A two-time Sunset Coach of the Year, his record at Huntington entering the week was 100-39.
Anderson, who also coached the Huntington girls' water polo team the past four years, graduated from Huntington in 2002.
"Reaching my 100th victory as the boys' coach at Huntington Beach has been quite surreal," he said. "I had never thought the cards would fall the way they have in that I get to coach my alma mater and lead the fine student-athletes that come through our program and school. I am very proud to provide the water polo families with a program that I did not have, and winning 100 games is just icing on the cake.
"I told the team that I was very proud to share that victory with the current team, and that it was even sweeter it being a big Sunset League opener against cross-town rival Edison. It's all about the kids, and my assistant coaches. They provide the efforts and support to find these levels of success."
Edison was playing for the first time with its complete roster in the Oct. 9 Sunset League opener. Transfers Ryan Warde (Newport Harbor) and Alex Nathan (Servite), became eligible to play on Oct. 7.
The Chargers regrouped from the loss to turn in an impressive run over the past week.
Edison competed last weekend at the Newport Rib Co. Tournament, an event it had won two of the previous three years. After Saturday, it became three of the past four.
The Chargers went 4-0 at the tournament, defeating their own JV team as well as Segerstrom and rival and Sunset League foe Fountain Valley before polishing off University, 16-8, in Saturday's title game. To the victors went a rib and tri tip meal at Newport Rib Co.
"You could really see the boys starting to gel as a team as the tournament progressed," Edison Coach Diggy Riley said. "I knew it would not take long. This is a very intelligent group of boys that really understand the concept of playing together and the benefits that go with playing like a team."
Edison followed up the tourney title with a big win Tuesday. The Chargers traveled to Santa Margarita and knocked off the host Eagles, ranked sixth in CIF-SS Division 1, 14-8. A key scoring run in the second quarter put the Chargers up, 8-4, at the half.
Two weeks ago, the teams met in the title game of the Villa Park Classic, a final won, 20-9, by Santa Margarita.