Photo by Chris Ruiz.
The Long Beach City College (LBCC) Men’s Water Polo team lost to rival Golden West four times during the season, making their recent win and taking of the 2015 CCCAA State Water Polo Championship an even sweeter victory. Thanks to a late overtime goal by Teo Dadic, the Vikings beat the Rustlers 12-11.
CCCAA spokesman Robert Lewis states, “For the No. 2 South seeds at the 2015 CCCAA State Water Polo Championships, it was a case of not what you did in previous matchups, but how you finished that mattered.”
The men’s title game was another exciting match-up in one of the greatest rivalries in California Community College athletics between LBCC and Golden West in water polo, wrote Lewis.
Long Beach jumped ahead 6-2 after one quarter, but Golden West stuck it out and took an 8-7 lead on the fifth of six goals by Dalton Kenefick with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Golden West led 10-8, but the Vikings came back with three straight goals finished by Dadic’s long-range shot to regain the advantage at 11-10. But the Rustlers answered with 36 seconds left in regulation on Allesandro Valania’s goal that sent it to OT, according to the release.
While GWC was able to rattle off six shots in the six-minute OT, Long Beach had failed to take a single shot during the allotted OT until Dadic received a pass from Tim Aakhus and “rifled” in the game-winning goal with just 25 seconds left on the clock.
It was Dadic’s fourth goal, but more important was the freshman Croatian’s defense which included four field blocks out of the team’s eight during the game, according to Lewis’ report.
“We concentrated in practices coming into the tournament on field blocking, and I know that was our season high today,” said LBCC head coach David Kasa in a statement. “We waited so long to get off a shot in the OT because we didn’t want to commit a turnover off a shot attempt due to Golden West’s strong counter attack. We wanted to wait until we could get a high percentage shot and Teo delivered. We were zapped of energy by that point too.”
Giorgio La Rosa, who scored two goals, was the tournament MVP and the Vikings received strong play from goalie Nick Wood with eight saves. Marton Gorbics flew in in three goals and made two assists, including the goal of the tournament when he made a no-look attempt from about 18 meters that left Golden West momentarily stunned in the first quarter.
It was the Vikings' 10th (1963, 1970, 1973, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2005, 2006, 2013, 2015) state title and their second in the past two seasons and the third consecutive year in which Golden West and LBCC played each other for the championship.