By Brian Reed-Baiotto, correspondent
IRVINE — A famous athlete once said, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”
For the second year in a row, Nogales High and star utility player Nick Estevez remain the man after its 8-6 victory Saturday morning in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 championship over Don Lugo at the William Woollett Aquatics Center.
Estevez had a game-high four goals to lead the Nobles (29-4) to their second consecutive title despite trailing much of the game. Estevez needed one goal to break the CIF-SS single-season scoring record that is now his at 233. (to continue click thread)
Don Lugo (26-7) never trailed until Estevez scored his final goal of the game with 4:48 remaining. The Conquistadores were outscored 5-2 in the second half and were shut out in the fourth period.
A game-changer occurred with 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter when a Don Lugo 2-meter shot was blocked that would have put the Conquistadores up 7-5.
After the save, Nogales goalie Christian Ortiz was able to outlet the ball to Estevez, who skipped the ball passed Don Lugo goalie Chris Ibarra as the third quarter buzzer rang and tied the score at 6-6.
“That was the turning point in the game when we were able to block their shot and Nick scored as time expired to tie the game,” Nogales coach Alexander Matal said. “I told our guys during timeouts and throughout the game that we needed to be patient and get good shots and it paid off late in the game.”
Austin Postivoit and Tim Zimlich had two goals apiece for Don Lugo, which led 4-2 and 5-3, but couldn’t close the deal late with some slopping passing.
“We didn’t score when we needed to and they scored when they needed to,” Don Lugo coach Karl Reiter said. “We were dominating for almost the entire game, but we started to rush things and fell a little short.”
Ramon Sanchez added two goals for the Nobles, while Victor Castaneda and Marco Garcia scored a goal each.
“It took about a week for it to sink in last year when we won a CIF championship and it will probably be the same this year,” an excited Estevez said after the game. “We always start slow and finish strong and we did that again today. It’s pretty exciting to break the scoring record, but this is about our team and not me.”
Vince Vizcaino and Lyle Parks each added a goal for the Mt. Baldy League champions.
“This team had never been to the semifinals before this year, so to get to the finals and give the defending champions a run makes me so proud of my guys,” Reiter said. “I am especially proud of my seniors who have raised the bar for the future of Don Lugo water polo.”
Ibarra had 12 blocks in goal for Don Lugo, while Ortiz stopped 12 shots for Nogales.