Gators lose in title match of NorCal boys water polo tourney


Walker Seymour scored twice in the second half, including the game-winner, to help Sacred Heart Prep rally from a two-goal deficit and beat Campolindo, 5-4, in the semifinal of the CIF Northern California Division I playoffs at Whitney High in Rocklin on Saturday.

The second-seeded Gators also rallied from behind to take a lead against top-seeded Drake only to have the Pirates steal it back in the fourth quarter of the championship game, also played Saturday. Drake earned the title of the inaugural Northern California Division I tournament with an 8-6 victory.

Sacred Heart Prep (26-5), which beat Drake (27-5) during the regular-season, can lay claim to being one of the top boys water polo team in the state, and, by extension, the nation.

The Gators club team finished third in a national tournament over the summer while several members played on the Stanford Water Polo Club team that won its second straight national Junior Olympic title, including co-MVP Alexander Nemeth, who recorded 33 saves on the day, including 20 against Campolindo.

Sacred Heart Prep proved itself the best in the Central Coast Section with its Open Division title. The Gators, winners of seven straight CCS titles, also fared well in prestigious in-season tournaments in southern California.

Against Campolindo, Larsen Weigle opened the scoring just over two minutes in but the Cougars responded with two goals within 34 seconds of each other in the first period. They added another goal to make it 3-1 late in the second period.

Andrew Churukian, who scored the game-tying goal, drew an exclusion that led to Michael Sonsini's power-play goal with 1:25 left in the second period.

Campolindo made it 4-2 at halftime with a goal in the final 20 seconds. It was the last goal the Cougars scored.

Seymour scored early in the third quarter to make it 4-3 and Churukian scored on the first possession of the fourth quarter to tie it.

A minute later Seymour scored the go-ahead goal and left the game to Nemeth and the defense.

The Pirates took a 4-2 lead midway through the second period of the title match. Chris Rowland scored with six seconds remaining in the first half and the Gators were within 4-3.

Weigle scored midway though the third period to knock things up at 4. A minute later, Churukian made it 5-4.

The lead lasted 32 seconds. Drake tied it on a power play. The Pirates regained the lead early in the fourth quarter.

Drake added another goal before Alex Tsotadze scored his third goal of the contest with 3:03 remaining to play.

That's the way the game remained until Drake added a goal in the final 12 seconds.

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