LA Arc Angels Series Game 2: LA vs. OC

Like all great Games - everything today came down the end of the 4thquarter.

With five minutes remaining in regulation LA had its best chance toscore its first victory of the year. The beleaguered Arc Angels onlyneeded a 7.0 from Bron Huessenstamm, Shaun Burrell or sub Yves Bright tosteal a win from powerhouse OC - which had brought the likes of ChrisWard, Timmy Reyes, Pat O'Connell and Mike Losness to Leo Carrillo. LAthough, was perfectly in rhythm all day with the inconsistent chest-highsets and looked primed for an upset. The LA bench was riled up, andsalty Angeleno fans were making hilarious digs at the boys from the OC.(OC's bright orange shirts and hats were a particular target as in, "Getthese Cal-Trans losers out of here!")

Back in the water, Big Bron got a great looking wave right next to therock with unlimited scoring potential, but he fell on his first crack.Shaun Burrell, a fiercely determined young goofyfoot whose thunderthighs propelled him to an 9.0 yesterday, got one and gave the waveeverything he had. He pumped up and down on the gutless wave tryingdesperately to find a speed pocket and a lip to belt. When the wavefinally petered out the LA bench thought he had done enough to lift themover the top, but the judges only gave him a 6.25. LA got one morechance when sub Yves Bright paddled into a decent looking wave with aminute to go. Bright is an unknown, un-sponsored surfer from the Valleyand he came through in the clutch by riding the wave as well as hepossibly could. But was it enough? Score: 6.75. Tie game: 102 to102. Time for overtime.

In OT, the Octopus got off to the slow start as Timmy Reyes, who earlierin the day had lit up a wave for an 8.0, looked a little stiff (he hadjust gotten off a plane from Australia.) He dug rails on a couple ofturns but still managed a 6.75. Pat O'Connell had been in a perfectflow with the conditions all day and got another nice one in OT for a6.75. OC's total score: 22.5 - decent but nothing to write home about.

LA, however, blew their team's chance at victory when Shaun Burrellbroke the grace period early by riding a tiny wave and then watchedhelplessly as the ocean went flat. The Arc Angels tried gamely to getwhatever they could on tiny scraps, but no sets came through during allof OT sealing yet another loss.

The drama in the water, however, paled in {{{comparison}}} to what went downon the beach after the final horn. Representatives from both teamscornered Brad Gerlach in the tent behind the scaffolding to complainabout judging. OC Coach Mike Parsons felt his team should have neverbeen forced into overtime because they had far superior talent and hadtotally out-surfed LA. LA co-Coach Strider Wasilewski and San DiegoCoach Paul Barr, though, felt LA had used superior wave selection andfelt that Burrell's pivotal 4th quarter wave had been underscored. Thebackstage meeting dragged on as the sun began to set. No one seemed toleave satisfied, but the passion and emotion expressed was powerful.

Truth be told, LA will be lucky to win a Game this season. They justdon't have the horses or the experience to match up with an all-starteam like OC. The Arc Angels were lucky to catch the Octopus on a daywhere Chris Ward kept getting mid range scores when he would blowaerials on the inside closeout by trying to pull crazy rotating 360'swhen simple grabs would have given him 8's or 9's.

LA should also take solace that its go-to guys are Burrell and Grey areyoung and green but are responding to the pressure of leading their teamwith poise and aplomb. Burrell's 9.0 yesterday defined commitment andeffort and Grey's 8.25 today was a thing of beauty. The Malibuatmosphere - clean blue-green water, rugged mountains cascading down tothe sand, beautiful girls on the beach, whales breeching in the kelp bed- was also second to none. More than one visitor took a breath of sweetsmelling air, looked around and said, "This is LA?"

So as the Arc Angles steel themselves for what will probably be anotherloss to San Diego tomorrow (which now sports both Damien Hobgood andHeath Walker on its team) they know their surfers might not be asskilled as those in Huntington or Oceanside, but at least the sceneryhere beats them hands down.

Final Score (OT):
OC: 124.5
LA: 113