Huntington Beach, CA - In front of a raucous crowd, and in their home water, the Golden West College Men's Water Polo program pulled off a four-peat after a last second goal helped secure a 10-9 win over rival Long Beach City College. The Rustlers trailed 9-8 with just over seven minutes left in the game, but rallied for the win, thanks to the last second goal by Manuel Augusto.
The Rustlers staked out an early 1-0 lead, but the Vikings would score four of the next six goals to take a 4-3 lead after the first quarter. In the second the two teams traded two goals a piece, as Long Beach entered the break up 6-5. The third ratcheted things up as Long Beach jumped out to an 8-6 lead after a 6-on-5 strike by Cam Pomana with 2:23 left in the third.
If any program knew how to handle the adversity though, it would be the Rustlers of Golden West. The now 28-time champion, didn't panic and grinded their way back into the game with back-to-back man advantage goals courtesy of Konstantino Koulouris that knotted the game up at eight goals each headed into the final quarter of action.
Long Beach would take themselves to an early lead, when Vedran Latkovic took a pass from Fabio Mujica and went top right corner from a nearly lying down position to make it 9-8 with 7:21 left. The next few possessions would go nowhere for either team, as the defense was ratcheted up a notch with the title on the line. With 4:13 to go, Golden West's Taylor Lungu finally broke through the stout Viking defense after netting the ball off a pass from Augusto.
Again each team traded tough possessions that came up empty, until the game boiled down to the final minute. With 45 seconds to go and just seconds left on the shot clock Augusto rose up after an ordinary foul just outside the 5-Meter position and put the ball passed Long Beach goalie Cole Raulston for the deciding advantage. Long Beach would take another trip down the pool, but came up just shy as the Rustlers secured another state championship win.
For Golden West, it was Augusto who kept coming up big for the Rustlers, scoring three goals and handing out five assists. Koulouris scored a game high five goals, while Lungu added a score and four steals. For Long Beach, SoCal Player of the Year, Jose Loubriel had a team high three goals. Mujica added five assists, while Raulston was phenomenal in goal with 17 saves on the afternoon.