From the sound of things in the locker room, Coach Justin Taylor figured his Costa Mesa High boys' water team was ready for revenge. The Mustangs were about to play host to Temecula Chaparral in the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs again.
Last year's match went to Chaparral. And it turned out to be close, a four-goal game.
Going into Tuesday night's contest, Taylor believed his Mustangs had a better shot at beating Chaparral.
He still felt that way, even after Chaparral won, 16-4, to advance to the first round.
"I don't think the scoreboard accurately reflects what I think we were capable of doing and how we were capable of playing that team," Taylor said. "You take away half of your turnovers. You hit a couple of your open shots that hit bars. And you put away half of your six-on-fives away, you're going to get into a tight game."
Chaparral (9-5) ended up handing the Mustangs (19-8) their second worst setback of the year.
The Pumas proved to be the more physical side. Their play still gave Costa Mesa chances to get back in the game as three of the Pumas' top three scorers fouled out, Garrison White in the second period and Mark Morin and Cullen Colas in the third.
However, the Mustangs failed miserably on their power-play opportunities. They converted one of 15 on the extra-man advantage. A couple of times in the first half, they had a two-man advantage and nothing panned out.
Chaparral, which left Temecula 3 1/2 hours before the sprint in order to avoid traffic, wasted little time when it arrived at Costa Mesa. White found the back of the net 39 seconds into the game.
Morin followed up with three straight goals, putting the Pumas up, 4-0, in the first period. During the seven-minute period, Chaparral blanked the hosts, even though Costa Mesa was on the power play three times.
"I think we started out strong, but were a little confused on defense initially, and they got a couple of goals early, and I think that really rattled us," Taylor said. "I think it was something that we struggled to contend with for the rest of the game and we just couldn't make our way back from that.
"I don't know if it was nerves and the fact that we were playing the same team again."
Seeing Costa Mesa in the playoffs for the second time in as many years motivated the Pumas, which shared third place in the Southwestern League. They were up against the Orange Coast League's second-place team.
"The fact that most of [our] guys started in this game last year, and they knew they came in here and beat them last year in a close game, they came in here ready to go," said Chaparral Coach Josh Stone, whose team plays at third-seeded Goleta Dos Pueblos on Thursday.
Morin and Brandon Moore led the way for Chaparral by producing five goals apiece. Westin Parrett added two goals.
Costa Mesa's Raymond Andrade scored twice, and Sagang Wee and Matt Brown each once. The good news for the Mustangs is that their starters, Andrade, Brown, Quinn Smith and goalie James Rydjeski are juniors, and Nick Warner and Jacob Peterson are freshmen. Taylor expects them all to be back next season, boding well for Costa Mesa's chances to return to the postseason and possibly win the program's first playoff game since 2008.
"That's a game that, you know, we would've been very happy to go to and get a game against a really solid team like [Dos Pueblos]. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be," Taylor said. "These guys will hopefully … still learn something from the experience today and take away the fact that you got to be ready to go at all times."