For the first time in its 16-year history, the La Quinta High School boys' water polo team has a CIF championship.
The Blackhawks beat back Temescal Canyon 10-7 on Saturday morning to secure the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship at the William Wollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Orange County.
"It's the greatest feeling ever, it truly is," said La Quinta's leading scorer on the year, Aaron Lowell, who scored twice Saturday. "It was enough to be (Desert Valley League) champions, but CIF? Words can't really describe it at all."
The Blackhawks led most of the match, but did have a scare in the second period when the Titans went up 3-2. But from there on out, La Quinta steadily outscored Temescal Canyon to swim away with the championship.
"This was probably the hardest game I've played this year," Lowell said. "They were a really good team and it was an honor to play against them -- it really was."
The Titans were good, and they were physical, injuring Lowell's shoulder in the first period, which possibly limited him to the two goals.
There were four Blackhawks tied for the most goals in the game with two: Lowell, Trent Rubio, Wyatt Seaman and Jordan Burton.
"We knew they had watched us play and they would key on a couple of players and that everyone else would have to step up as well," said Rubio, a junior. "And we did a good job of that."
Rubio perhaps best summed up the team's emotions just after the victory.
"It feels awesome, I've never had a championship moment like this before. It's awesome."
Blackhawks head coach Cal Lowell has been at the helm of the team since its inception in 1997, and until this year had never won a Desert Valley League championship -- let alone a CIF championship.
"It's satisfying; I feel at peace, I'll admit it," the head coach said shortly after getting a celebratory dunk in the match pool. "The boys started off not playing the game I knew we needed to play to win, which is more dynamic and attacking down the pool. I don't know if it was the jitters, but by the fourth quarter they attacked harder and we got the ball deeper."
Although Aaron Lowell and Rubio are the team's leading scorers this season, it was Seaman and Burton who got the Blackhawks on the board in the first quarter, each scoring a goal in that period to keep the score tied 2-2 going into the second quarter.
"I never thought this would happen -- ever," Seaman, a senior, said. "I came in as a freshman and had never played before -- I never dreamed this would happen."
The teams exchanged goals in the second quarter, Temescal Canyon scoring first to take its only lead of the match and La Quinta scoring on Seaman's second goal.
The Blackhawks took the lead for good in the third period on a Jon Claridge goal with 4:31 left in the quarter. Claridge got the ball on a kick-out pass from Lowell.
Also scoring for La Quinta was Reilly Becker, who picked up his goal a minute and 24 seconds after Claridge.
La Quinta finishes the year 27-4 and 4-0 in the postseason.