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IRVINE — Portola’s boys water polo team continued to show Tuesday that it wasn’t satisfied with a breakout run in the CIF-SS playoffs last fall.
The Bulldogs want more.
Sophomore center Luke Porter and sophomore attacker Ryder Tonkovich each scored four goals and junior Noam Garibi added three as host Portola defeated University for the first time with a 14-10 triumph against the reigning Pacific Coast League champion.
Last week, Portola — ranked second to league foe Irvine in Division 3 — defeated Beckman for the first time.
The Bulldogs (17-2, 2-0) have reached the milestones after advancing to the Division 4 semifinals last season in their first postseason appearance.
“We’ve got a lot of potential here,” sixth-year Portola coach Kate Avery said. “We’ve got a really, really great opportunity to do something for our school, and our program, that we’ve never done before. I have lofty goals.”
— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) October 4, 2022
Portola flashed the speed of a league title contender against University (7-9, 1-1). Eight of the Bulldogs’ 14 goals came off the counterattack.
Tonkovich scored three of his four goals on the counterattack, including two in the critical second period. The Bulldogs erupted for six consecutive goals to open a 7-2 lead.
He also fueled the counterattack with two steals and three assists. Kasra Sowlati and Ryan Aminloo each added three steals as Portola found success transitioning from its “M-Drop” zone defense.
Goalie Grant Kramer, one of Portola’s four senior captains, had 11 saves and two assists to help push the counterattack.
Junior center Oleg Shatskikh and Joshua Chen paced University with five and four goals, respectively. The duo also combined for five assists.
The Trojans also stayed competitive thanks to senior goalie Ryan Watson, who made nine of his 13 saves in the first half.
The trio are the lone returning starters from a Trojans team that won its first league title since 1991 last season.
“We’re looking for this to be a rebuilding year and hopefully be stronger next year,” University coach Jesse Briggs said.
Portola faces a showdown Thursday against Irvine, which also is 2-0 in league.
But no matter the result, both teams will have plenty of work ahead.
Later this month, the eight-team Pacific Coast League will introduce a league carousel tournament at Sage Hill. The top-two teams from the single-round of league play will receive first-round byes into the tournament semifinals and automatically qualify for the playoffs. The two other semifinalists will earn the league’s remaining automatic playoff spots.