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Warrior water polo falls in semifinals

Fallbrook High School’s boys water polo team reached the CIF Division I semifinals for the first time since 2003 before an 11-8 loss to Vista November 19 ended the Warriors’ season.

“Very happy about that,” Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont said of reaching the “final four.” “To say it was not a bad season was an understatement.”

The loss to Vista, along with two earlier playoff wins, gave Fallbrook a final overall record of 21-11.

“This is the best record that Fallbrook’s put up, at 21 and 11, in this millennium,” Lamont said.

The Warriors tied for second in the Avocado League standings with a 7-3 mark in league competition.

Fallbrook earned the fifth seed for the Division I playoffs, although the shallow-deep Fallbrook High School pool does not meet CIF playoff standards so Rancho Bernardo obtained home-pool advantage for the first-round match November 13.

“They were very good hosts, and it was a good game,” Lamont said.

Fallbrook’s 9-5 win over the Broncos included four fourth-quarter goals after a 4-3 halftime lead and a 5-4 cushion after three periods.

“The fourth quarter was really where that game was decided,” Lamont said.

In the America’s Finest City tournament September 26-27, Fallbrook had prevailed 10-4 over Rancho Bernardo.

“They were much improved through the season,” Lamont said of the Broncos.

The CIF quarterfinals were played November 15 at La Jolla High School’s Coggan Pool, and Fallbrook faced Torrey Pines.

The fourth-seeded Falcons were undefeated in Avocado League play, including two one-goal wins over Fallbrook, while the Warriors earned a one-goal victory over Torrey Pines in sudden death overtime during the America’s Finest City tournament.

“It’s sort of satisfying to beat them 10 to 7 in CIF,” Lamont said. “That was a good win for us. Our defense was much improved. Everyone played good defense across the board.”

Fallbrook led the Falcons 3-2 at halftime before a six-goal third period gave the Warriors a 9-5 lead.

During the regular season Fallbrook lost by one goal to Vista, which was given the top seed for the Division I playoffs.

The CIF semifinals took place at Coggan Pool. “We were able to hold our own on the counterattack,” Lamont said.

Lamont was also pleased with Fallbrook’s perimeter shooting during the semifinals. “It was closer than the score might indicate,” he said.

The semifinal match was tied at three goals apiece before the Panthers scored twice in the final 30 seconds of the first half.

“That was a difference we couldn’t seem to make up,” Lamont said.

Although Fallbrook wasn’t subsequently able to knot the score, Vista led by only a 7-6 margin entering the final period in which the Panthers had a 4-2 scoring advantage.

“They pulled away from us a little bit,” Lamont said.

“The real difference from a tactical viewpoint was they scored on three of their four extra man plays and we were given five opportunities and didn’t convert,” Lamont said. “They got it done; we didn’t.”

The loss ended Fallbrook’s seven-game winning streak.

“The loss to Vista represents our first and only loss in the month of November,” Lamont said. “Just a real nice way to finish.”

The loss also concluded the Fallbrook High School playing careers of seniors Russell Barrett, Kai Bowman, Ryan Helling, and Kevin Wu.

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