By Nathan Cambridge
When South Pasadena visited the home waters of the San Marino High boys’ water polo team earlier this season, the Titans, playing the role of the hosts, prevailed over the Tigers.
Now, it was the Tigers’ turn to be the home team and see if they could do the same.
However, the Titans had other plans.
The Titan defense pitched a shutout in the second half as San Marino downed host South Pasadena 14-4 in Rio Hondo League play on Oct. 19.
“Obviously, disappointing, but I think we fought hard and we tried the entire time, so I’m proud of the team,” South Pasadena coach Lindsey Garcia said.
South Pasadena’s Theo Hilger scored with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter to draw the hosts within one. Titan Diego Joaquin Garcia would score on a skip shot with 37 seconds left to set the halftime margin of 6-4, but Hilger’s goal was noteworthy in that it was the last time the Tigers would score in the contest. This meant, when the final horn sounded, the Titans had held their rivals scoreless for the final 15:13 of the game.
“Competitive first half,” San Marino coach Robert Zirovich said. “The score does not reflect how hard and smart South Pasadena played. We had to work really hard in that first half.”
Freshman Nathan Chan went off on South Pasadena, playing solid defense and scoring eight goals to double the output of the hosts.
Chan had the first two goals of the game for San Marino, after which his team led 3-2. He then scored the first goal of the second period, which ended in a 6-4 Titans advantage.
Chan then tallied the first two goals of the third quarter, where he scored three of his team’s four goals. Finally, he scored the first goal of the fourth quarter before earning his eighth later in the frame.
Garcia tallied four goals, including two in the second period. Daniel Chen, who was key in the defensive effort, scored the other two goals for the visitors, both coming in the final frame.
“We pressed really heavy,” Garcia said of the Titan defense. “We had great set guarding. Just everything was working really well. We kept them down to four goals, which is really nice. I just liked how we pressed them. It just worked.”
South Pasadena had two goals from Hilger and one apiece from Rowan Smith and Kenta Fernandes.
The Titans struck first when Chan found an opening and skipped a shot underneath the Tiger goalkeeper’s arms for a goal just 26 seconds in.
South Pasadena tied the score with 5:27 left with an extremely long-distance shot from Hilger that floated into the upper corner of the net. Just 16 seconds later, Chan put the Titans on top again with a goal from close range, assisted by Howard Huang. Smith put a shot into the back of the cage to tie the contest again with 4:14 to go. The final goal of the first came from Garcia with 3:35 left after Titan goalkeeper Thomas Zhou made two saves at the other end just before the scoring.
The defenses dominated early in the second period before Chan scored at the 2:49 mark from the left side off an assist by Huang. Fernandes then scored for the hosts on a nifty lob with 1:54 to go. Garcia netted another with 1:41 to go on a skip shot, before he and Hilger scored one apiece in the final 1:13.
San Marino blew open the tight contest in the third quarter, winning the frame 4-0. The first goal was by Chan on the counterattack with 3:45 to go. The freshman scored again 31 seconds later after he had a steal, swam nearly the length of the pool with the ball and finished from close range. Garcia scored on a skip shot from long distance with 1:57 left. The final goal of the third came on a backhand shot by Chan in the final minute coming out of a Titan timeout.
Chan scored the first goal of the fourth, assisted by Huang, 15 seconds into the period. Jonathan Zhang assisted Chen for a goal 47 seconds later. Chan scored his final goal of the game with 4:14 left before Chen scored the final goal of the Titan victory with 2:23 remaining.
South Pasadena, meanwhile, concluded the season with an away match against Monrovia in its Rio Hondo League finale on Thursday.
First published in the October 27 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.