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Second half surge not enough for water polo

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune

Madera goalie Kyle Balbas tries to block a Hoover penalty shot during Wednesday’s loss.


After getting shut out in the first quarter of its match against the Hoover-Fresno Patriots, the Madera Coyotes boys water polo team closed out the final three quarters outscoring Hoover, but it wasn’t enough in an 11-8 loss at the McAlister Pool Complex.

The Coyotes outscored the Patriots 8-7 from the second quarter to the end of the game. However, a 4-0 first quarter deficit doomed Madera. The Coyotes shut out the Patriots in the third quarter and outscored Hoover 5-3 in the second half.

“We shook the first two quarters off,” head coach Rick Martines said. “On paper, it looks like we’re old, but we’re not. Five of the nine guys on my team, this is their third game ever playing varsity. Our reaction time is a little off. I really feel this game should have been 14-11 us if we played better in the first half.”

Robby Niino led the Coyotes with four goals. Garrin Hatfield added three more and Blake Favors also scored a nifty goal. However, it was Madera ineffectiveness in man advantage situations.

“We had at least eight opportunities,” Martines said. “It’s the beginning for us. It’s a learning process for us. If we fix the little things, we should have a productive season.”

Hoover scored two goals in a one-minute span for the early lead.

Madera goalie Kyle Balbas made four blocks in the first five minutes of the match.

With 46 seconds left in the first, Hoover skipped a shot past Balbas for a goal. Another skip shot went by Balbas with eight seconds left in the first quarter for a 4-0 lead.

The Patriots scored 35 seconds into the second quarter for a 5-0 lead.

A minute later, Madera got the man advantage. Johnny Hunter got the ball on the right and sent a pass to Hatfield at the top. He shot into the upper left corner for the goal.

However, Hoover countered with a five-meter skip shot 21 seconds later for a 6-1 lead.

Madera missed three straight man advantages and Hoover answered with a skip shot goal with a minute left in the first half.

Madera scored 20 seconds later. Favors sent a ball to Niino in front. He tipped the ball by the Hoover defender and goalie. Niino went by the pair and touched the ball into the back of the net for a 7-2 Hoover lead.

Hoover scored on a man-up situation with two seconds left in the first half.

However, Madera took advantage of a Hoover mental mistake for a goal with no time left in the first half. Niino was awarded a five-meter free shot and found the lower right corner for the goal and an 8-3 Hoover lead at the half.

“You can’t have two hands up,” Martines said. “If you’re inside the five-meter and two hands are up, it results in a five-meter penalty shot and that’s what happened.”

Less than a minute into the second half, the Coyotes started a comeback. Favors got the ball on the right and sent a pass to Niino in the middle. Niino shot into the upper right corner for the goal.

About a minute later, Madera received a five-meter shot and Niino found the upper right corner for a goal and cut the lead to 8-5.

About 30 seconds later, Jake Martinez got the ball on the left and sent the ball across to Favors on the left side of the net. Favors touched the ball inside the left post for the goal to cut the lead to 8-6.

Madera held the Patriots scoreless in the third quarter, but Hoover scored a pair of goals in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 10-6.

The Coyotes missed their chance to cut into the lead after not taking a shot during a man advantage.

However, two minutes later, the Coyotes scored a goal to give them a chance. With a man advantage, Martines, from the top, sent a pass to Hatfield on the left. Hatfield shot high inside the near corner for the goal and a 10-7 lead with a minute left in the match.

Hoover scored seven seconds later to put the game out of reach, 10-7.

Hatfield added a goal with a long shot into the upper left corner with 10 seconds left in the match for the 11-8 final.


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