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Lancers entertain fans but drop CIF opener to Cougars Phillip Brents | Thu, Nov 11 2010 05:27 PM

The way Hilltop boys water polo coach John Salts figures it, the No. 8-seeded team in the San Diego Section playoffs has the toughest draw in the first round because that team is playing the team closest to it in the bracket. The Lancers, seeded eighth, drew the ninth-seeded Steele Canyon Cougars in Wednesday’s opening round of the Division II playoffs.

True to the Hilltop coach’s words, the game proved to be an entertaining match-up with five lead changes.

But it was a disappointing showing for the reigning South Bay League champion Lancers overall, who valiantly fought back to tie the game on four occasions and twice took one-goal leads.

Steele Canyon had more in the end, escaping with a 9-7 victory.

“I’m proud of my kids,” said Salts, whose team finished 15-8 on the season. “Steele Canyon played a great game. It wasn’t the outcome we were looking for. But we’ll be back next year.”

The Cougars, who finished fifth out of six teams in the Grossmont Hills League standings, broke out to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Pablo Mercier and Brent Kerrigan. The Lancers tied the game on back-to-back goals by Rodrigo Perez early in the second quarter. From there, the back-and-forth nature of the game commenced.

Hilltop got goals from Ryan Wertz and Tanner Franklin in the dying minutes of the first half to lead 4-3 at halftime.

But Kerrigan promptly pumped in a pair of goals to jump-start the second half, putting Steele Canyon (16-14) up 5-4.

Then it was Hilltop’s turn with back-to-back goals by Wertz and Perez to go up 6-5 later in the quarter.
Kerrigan and Conner Clark then scored for the Cougars while Juan Ontiveros notched his lone goal of the game for Hilltop with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 7-7.

Goals by Brant Bidegain and Kerrigan (with 1:55 to play) sealed the victory for the Cougars, who will face top-seeded Scripps Ranch (17-9) in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Kerrigan, operating primarily out of the two-meter set position, led Steele Canyon with six goals.
Perez led the Lancers with three goals while Wertz scored twice. Kevin Moran (nine saves) and Luis Ontiveros (six saves) kept their team in the game throughout the contest.

“We started out very slow, we had a bad case of nerves,” Salts said. “You’ve got to get used to playing at this level.”

Playoff scoreboard
Upsets seemed to rule the waves  as the Division II and Division III playoffs got under way on Wednesday.

In the Division II bracket, 11th-seeded Monte Vista (14-16) upended sixth-seeded West Hills (12-16) by a score of 11-8 while 10th-ranked Point Loma (14-16) stopped seventh-seeded Valhalla (13-15) by a score of 10-9. In the only non-upset match-up of the four first-round games in Division II, fifth-seeded Ramona (11-9) defeated 12th-seeded Helix (8-22) by a score of 13-8 on the strength of Kari Gonter’s team-high six goals.

Quarterfinal-round match-ups on Friday at La Jolla High School pit top-seeded Scripps Ranch (17-9) against ninth-seeded Steele Canyon (16-14) at 4 p.m., fourth-seeded Westview (19-10) against fifth-seeded Ramona (11-9) at 5:15 p.m., third-seeded Mt. Carmel (22-6) againt 11th-seeded Monte Vista (14-16) at 6:30 p.m. and second-seeded Serra (17-12) against 10th-seeded Point Loma (14-16) at 7:45 p.m.

Semifinals are Nov. 16 at 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. at LJHS.

There was one upset in the opening round of the Division III playoffs as ninth-seeded La Jolla Country Day (24-4) nudged eighth-seeded El Capitan (17-11) by a score of 13-7.

In other Division III first-round contests, fifth-seeded Santana (25-6) topped 12th-seeded Clairemont (15-14) by a score of 25-9, while sixth-seeded Santa Fe Christian (19-11) defeated 11th-seeded Mission Bay (15-15) by a score of 10-9 and seventh-seeded University City (16-5) shut out 10th-seeded Canyon Crest (13-16) by a score of 5-0.

Saturday’s Division III quarterfinals will pair top-seeded Bishop’s (20-8) against ninth-seeded LJCD (24-4) at 8:30 a.m., fourth-seeded La Jolla (21-9) against fifth-seeded Santana (25-6) at 9:45 a.m., third-seeded Coronado (13-12) against sixth-seeded Santa Fe Christian (19-11) at 11 a.m. and second-seeded Cathedral Catholic (13-14) against seventh-seeded University City (16-5) at 12:15 p.m.

Semifinals are Nov. 17 at 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. at LJHS.

The Division I bracket gets under way on Thursday with fifth-seeded Rancho Bernardo (12-17) hosting 12th-seeded La Costa Canyon (8-10), sixth-seeded Grossmont (15-13) hosting 11th-seeded Patrick Henry (19-10) at 5:30 p.m., seventh-seeded Fallbrook (22-7) hosting Rancho Buena Vista (16-11) and eighth-seeded Poway (10-19) meeting ninth-seeded Eastlake (18-10) in an 8 p.m. match-up at UC-San Diego.

Saturday’s quarterfinals at LJHS will feature top-seeded Vista (23-5) facing either Poway or Eastlake at 1:30 p.m., fourth-seeded Torrey Pines (18-11) meeting either Rancho Bernardo or LCC at 2:45 p.m., third-seeded Granite Hills (21-5) squaring off against either Grossmont or Patrick Henry at 4 p.m. and second-seeded Carlsbad (20-9) facing either Fallbrook or RBV.

Semifinals are Nov. 18 at 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. at LJHS.

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