With the North Coast Section Division I championship game tied and time winding down, the Miramonte High boys water polo team team came out of a timeout without a concrete plan in place.
So Tyler Kirchberg rose to the occasion.
The Matadors junior buried the game-winning goal with 1.53 seconds remaining to cap a thrilling 9-8 victory over San Ramon Valley at Acalanes High on Saturday. The win gave the top-seeded Miramonte (19-9) its second straight NCS title and 13th section championship in the last 18 years.
"Jack (Fellner) and Charlie (Wiser) are the two top scoring players on our team, I thought one of them was going to take the shot," Kirchberg said. "I was open center cage and (SRV defenders) didn't come to me. The cage was open so I hit it."
The No. 3 Wolves (20-8), who were aiming for their first ever NCS championship, tied the game twice in the final 1:36 on goals by Conor Neumann. But Miramonte, which has now won its last three NCS titles by just a goal, always had an answer.
The wild finish was eerily similar to last year's Division I final between the Wolves and Matadors. Miramonte won that game on Charlie Wiser's sudden death goal.
Wiser, who has committed to Stanford, was also instrumental in this year's championship. He scored twice and drew numerous ejections as Miramonte scored four goals on power plays and twice on 5-meter penalty shots.
Jack Fellner, a UCLA commit, led Miramonte with four goals and
Neumann, a junior left-hander who also pitches for the San Ramon Valley baseball team, led the Wolves with four goals.
Marin Catholic-Kentfield 15, Alhambra 8: Thomas Carroll scored seven goals to lead the top-seeded Wildcats (21-8) over the second-seeded Bulldogs (16-11) in the NCS Division II boys championship game at Acalanes.
Marin Catholic was nursing a 3-2 lead late in the first quarter when Carroll got going. He scored his first goal after a long pass from goalkeeper Danny Fitzpatrick, beating Alhambra's Christian Bumala to the left side with 20 seconds left in the quarter. That was the second goal in a 5-0 Wildcat run that spanned the first-to-third quarters. The Bulldogs never threatened after that.
"Don't let them in the game at all," Carroll said when asked about Marin Catholic's game-plan. "We've just got to go out there and win right away. Set the tone."
Carroll scored four goals in the third quarter to help push the lead to 11-4.
"We've been practicing this past week, just trying to shut him down," Alhambra's Michael Bull said. "Clearly, he's a phenomenal player and he just outplayed us. He might be the best player in NCS. He's one of the best I've played against for sure."
Bull scored four goals to lead the Bulldogs.
-- Damin Esper, correspondent