by Lou Ponsi
IRVINE – Servite's Christian Martinez provided most of the offense and the Friars responded in pressure situations throughout their 13-11 victory over Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga in the CIF SS Division 3 final Saturday at Woollett Aquatics Center.
Martinez scored in every period and finished with six goals and three assists to help the Friars (22-8) win their first CIF-SS title in water polo since 2005.
"It was an amazing journey through the season and for these guys to cap it off," Servite coach Andy Coffman said. "We're a senior-heavy team ...I'm elated for them."
The Friars, who finished fourth in the Trinity League, never trailed and except for a 2-2 tie after the first period, led the entire game
As the Grizzlies (19-14) focused on stopping Servite's leading scorer, Guillermo Ocasio, who finished with three goals, the Friars passed the ball around the perimeter and set up Martinez with good scoring opportunities.
Martinez scored three of the Friars' first four goals, helping them take a 5-2 lead in the second quarter and putting Los Osos in the position of having to play catch up.
Los Osos' deficit was between two and three through most of the game, and whenever the Grizzlies did cut Servite's lead to two, the Friars always answered with a goal, taking away any chance at momentum.
"They put some good pressure on us, which we have struggled with in the past," Coffman said. "We fixed that coming in here. The guys made the adjustment.
"I felt like there wasn't an answer we didn't have for what they did to us. We responded really well."
Servite led 6-3 at the half. After Evan Serynek scored for the Grizzlies to start the third, Servite cam right back with a goal from Jack Peterson.
The Friars' lead was cut to 8-6 late in the third when Michael French scored for Los Osos.
Once again, Servite responded, this time with Jack Dunbar's goal from 6 meters out to build the Friars' lead back up to three heading into the fourth.
That same scenario played out three more times in the final period with Martinez, Ocasio and Dunbar all answering Los Osos goals with goals for Servite.
Fittingly, Martinez scored Servite's final goal.
"It's an amazing feeling," Martinez said. "All the guys are ecstatic. I'm ecstatic. Four years of hard work and waking up early in the morning to get to this place, it's honestly a blessing."