SARATOGA - L.A. Valley put together a strong first quarter to slow top-ranked Golden West College but in the end it was the Rustlers - behind six goals from Manuel Agosto - getting the upper hand as they beat the Monarchs, 12-10, on Saturday to win their third straight CCCAA Men's Water Polo Championship at West Valley College. Golden West (26-1) captured its 26th state championship overall, the most of any CCCAA program.
Tournament MVP Peyton Collins added three goals for the Rustlers while Cody Ingram, Nicky Ure and Matija Jancic each added one. L.A. Valley (25-6), which was in search of its first state championship, was paced by a three goals from freshman Davo Arakelyan. Carson Arnett and Aram Nordanyan each added a pair while Luis Brunner and Haik Gukasyan each had one.
The Monarchs came ready to play on Saturday, wasting no time getting on the scoreboard, drawing an exclusion against the Rustlers' Nicky Ure just 35 seconds into the game and converting it into a score by Sukisyan. Arnett and Gukasyan then scored over the next 2-1/2 minutes to give L.A. Valley an eye-opening 3-0 lead over the two-time defending champions. Ure's goal midway through the period got Golden West on the scoreboard and helped then only trail 4-2 going into the second.
Agosto then went to work in over the next eight minutes, tallying three goals over a three-minute span as Golden West caught L.A. Valley just before halftime, tying the game, 5-5. The Rustler's took their first lead with 1:47 left in the third on Ingram's goal with Agosta tacking on another just 40 seconds later to give them a two-goal advantage, 9-7. Arnett's goal with just five ticks left made it 9-7, setting up an exciting fourth quarter.
The teams exchanged goals, starting with Collins' score two minutes in, as Golden West was able to keep at least one goal between it and L.A. Valley. Arakelyan's score with 2:04 remaining brought the Monarchs to within, 11-10, but Agosto scored an important insurance goal with 1:23 left to provide the final margin.
"The team did a great job this season," remarked Coach Scott Taylor to gwcathletics.com after the game. "Our staff is proud of the efforts and progress throughout the fall. It's very difficult to beat a team mulitple times in a season. L.A. Valley gave us all we could handle. Go Rustlers!"
Golden West has won six state championships since 2011.