During the first half, it appeared that Half Moon Bay High School’s water polo match with host Terra Nova would be like most of the others, a thriller to the finish.

But when the third quarter ended, the drama was over in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division boys match.

The Cougars outscored host Terra Nova, 7-1, in that seven-minute time frame and coasted in with a 15-7.

Half Moon Bay improves to 4-0 in league play and stands alone in first, by a game over Sequoia.

The Cougars were scheduled to play at San Mateo, Tuesday. Results of the match were not available at press time. Half Moon Bay ends the first half of the season at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, at Hillsdale.

The fact the match with Terra Nova was challenging was not a surprise to the Cougars. The Cougars fell to the Tigers in both matches last year. In each case it was by one goal, with Terra Nova winning the league title. Terra Nova entered the match in second place.

“Terra Nova is a well-coached team,” Half Moon Bay coach Brice Tarling said. “They are fit and they are strong.”

But so is Half Moon Bay. The team spent a good part of the summer doing fitness and conditioning drills just for these matches.

Wednesday’s practice was spent mostly on defense, forcing turnovers and counter attacks.

“We have a great practice,” said Matt Tolar. “All of that practice paid off. It showed today. Everyone gave us a great game.”

Goalie Kieran Wolk was on his game, showing no side effects from the illness that kept him out of school for a week.

“I was very nervous,” said Wolk, who had a high fever and a sore throat. “I knew this would be a dogfight.”

Then came the third quarter when everything clicked.

“We worked a lot on the press,” Wolk said. “That gave us a chance.”

At the end of the third quarter, the Cougars were feeling better about themselves. Being alone in first helps the cause. The celebration was short-lived as the Cougars look ahead to the rest of the season.

“We are not thinking right now that we are in first place,” Tolar said. “We are thinking about our next match.”

Tolar finished with four goals, three assists and a steal. Jack Dobbrow led Half Moon Bay with five goals, five steals and three assists. Thomas Meador added three goals and three steals to go with his two assists. Kevin Merritt scored two goals and Alex Chee added a goal.

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