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Damien Dunks Bonita 11-5 in Orange Crate; Tough Schedule Ahead for Cats

September 22, 2011
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First-year Damien water polo coach Grant Miller saw his Spartans sink Bonita 11-5 in the Las Flores pool on Wednesday.

First-year Damien water polo coach Grant Miller saw his Spartans sink Bonita 11-5 in the Las Flores pool on Wednesday.

Damien High School’s varsity water polo team helped new coach Grant Miller win his first Orange Crate trophy by dunking Bonita 11-5 at Las Flores Park in the cross-town rivalry match.

“This kind of remains me of when I played in this a couple of years ago when we got this thing going,” Miller said. “It’s always a heated rivalry. The crowd was really into it. The guys were really into it. It was a really fun atmosphere to be a part of.”

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It was a wire-to-wire performance by Damien getting two first-quarter goals from Steve Osterberg before Bonita’s Nick Wallman got Bonita on the board with 58 seconds left in the first period. Damien led 2-1.

It was rough waters for Bonita in the second period as Damien outscored the Bearcats 4-1 to take a 6-2 lead into intermission. A pair of Damien goals came on a deflection and another on a man-up situation.

“It seemed like we were a man down all game,” said Bonita coach John Ashby. “When you got a guy sitting in the box it makes it much more difficult when you have big kids like they do.

“And we didn’t do as well in our man-up situations, so we kind of lost the game at uneven strength. They were always up and they scored on us, and we were always up and they blocked us.”

To open the third, Bonita halved the score at 6-3 on a slick assist from Kevin Webb to Keeton Renta, but then Damien scored three unanswered goals to surge to a 9-3 lead. When it looked as if Bonita was sinking fast, however, Matt Zachary and Renta each scored in the period’s last 33 seconds to pull the Bearcats within four points, 9-5.

Bonita, however, was shut out in the final period while Damien tacked on a little more insurance to win, 11-5.

“We have a really strong defense, which we really pride ourselves on,” Miller said. “Our idea is that we don’t want to give up more than five goals in a game, and we were able to accomplish that today.”

Bonita comes off a long NorCal road trip and plays top-rated La Serna and Long Beach Wilson next week. They leave tomorrow for San Diego, where again their stamina and determination will be tested.

Bonita coach John Ashby tries to spark his players who came off a long weekend tournament in Atherton, Calif.

Bonita coach John Ashby tries to spark his players who came off a long weekend tournament in Atherton, Calif.

“We’ve got a super-tough schedule coming up,” Ashby said. “We have five games in the next two days, so it doesn’t get any easier. But that’s the plan, as we aim for a championship.”

Ashby still likes where he sits. He believes his senior-heavy team will respond well to the non-league loss.

Was Bonita guilty of looking ahead to La Serna, a team that knocked the Bearcats out of the semifinals last year?

“I respect their (La Serna’s) program but I want to go out and win that game,” Ashby said. “I mean I don’t think we’ve beaten them in a couple of years, so it would be good to get one of those monkeys off our back.”

 

 

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