The Half Moon Bay High School boys water polo team ended the first half of the season last week with two wins and remain undefeated in Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division play.

Both of those wins were taxing.

Half Moon Bay defeated Hillsdale, 13-12, with Kevin Merritt scoring the winning goal late in the match.

It was the second time in the week that Merritt gave Half Moon Bay the lead for good.

Two days earlier, Merritt scored the go-ahead goal against San Mateo with 1:48 left. That was the first time the Cougars led in the match.

Jack Dobbrow’s goal, 31 seconds later, was the final score of the 15-13 win.

The Cougars hold a 6-0 record, a full game ahead of Sequoia. The two teams were scheduled to play Tuesday. Results of the match were not available at press time.

The Cougars play Priory at 3 p.m., Thursday, at Menlo School.

The Cougars host Mills on Tuesday.

Half Moon Bay seemed to be on its way to beating Hillsdale, holding a five-goal lead in the third quarter. The Knights rallied, thanks in part to some errors made by both the players and coach Brice Tarling.

“Sometimes those things happen,” Tarling said.

It also didn’t help that the Cougars were missing two players due to illness.

“We did win, but it was challenging,” Tarling said.

It was the same thing against San Mateo. San Mateo played as if it was going for a league title instead of trying to avoid finishing in last place.

The Bearcats scored the game’s first goal 23 seconds into the match. San Mateo maintained the lead for the remainder of the first quarter and about 90 seconds through the second quarter.

“That first goal shocked us,” Merritt said. “We knew we had to keep it to a one-goal deficit.”

Dobbrow tied the score with the first of his six goals of the match. It was the first of six times the match was tied.

The Bearcats built the lead to 2 four times, and twice to three goals.

John Halet led the charge, scoring nine goals, all in the second and third quarter. Most of his goals came from beyond the 5-meter area.

“That guy was on fire,” Merritt said.

Down 12-9, with one quarter left, the Cougars made a final charge. Defensively, the Cougars double-teamed, making someone shoot.

Merritt scored twice, pulling the Cougars to within one. San Mateo’s final goal came from Perry Liu with 4:21 left.

Merritt and Thomas Meador scored, tying the match with 3:07 left in the game. Up a man, the Cougars took the lead when Merritt scored his fourth goal of the quarter and fifth of the match.

“I was worried,” Merritt said. “I thought they would win.”

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