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No changing of guard here

January 25, 2007|By Matt Szabo

COSTA MESA — Sometimes, in water polo, a killer instinct helps more than any skill or play diagramed in a timeout.

Estancia High has never beaten cross-town rival Costa Mesa in varsity girls' water polo. The Mustangs, in a slugfest, seemed to have that fact boost them that much more on Wednesday at Estancia.

Talhia Nuñez scored a power-play goal with just over two minutes left in the game, lifting Costa Mesa to a 12-11 win as both teams began the second half of Orange Coast League play.

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The goal was Nuñez's seventh of the game, which featured eight ties. Neither team had more than a two-goal lead, which was quite a change from the Mustangs' 9-2 win at home on Dec. 20.

"We didn't want to overlook them," said Nuñez, a junior. "We just tried to forget that we beat them last time, and keep on working and just try our best. It was our ticket into CIF and we really wanted it."

Costa Mesa (11-10, 3-1 in league) did stay in the driver's seat for a CIF Southern Section Division II playoff spot. But first, the Mustangs had to withstand one last push from Estancia (12-8, 0-4). The Eagles got the ball back with 18 seconds left after goalie Emily Kaplan's 10th save of the game.

After a timeout, the Mustangs stole the ball, only to have Estancia's Meagan Kunert steal it back.

But the Eagles failed to get a shot off, and Mustangs two-meter defender Shyra Crandall stole the ball on an entry pass with one second left.

"They looked like they got a little lost, and I felt like they got their backs climbed on a little bit," Estancia Coach Bob Bandaruk said of his Eagles. "It was enough of a distraction where I thought we should have had a free pass or an ejection, and we didn't … But we had the opportunity to win this game, and we didn't finish. We just didn't get it done today."

Costa Mesa senior Abbie Dyvig, who had two goals and two steals, said the Mustangs may have come in overconfident after two blowout losses to Laguna Beach and Downey last week.

"It was kind of like, 'Here's an easy team that we can get our self-esteem up on,'" Dyvig said. "But, that wasn't the case. We had to grind that one out and it shouldn't have been like that. We've beat them by a lot of goals each year."

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