Orange County easily defeated Team San Diego, 195.3 to 167.3, completing the Hurley Game Weekend with an impressive three to zero record. The home team was also victorious on opening day with a 40-point victory over Santa Cruz followed with a nail-biting five-point margin to defeat Ventura on Saturday. The National Surf League’s (NSL) first stop on the California Cup, presented by the Southern California Salt Company was held April 30 to May 2, 2004 at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Team San Diego arrived early Sunday morning with a star-studded crew, featuring world-class names like Rob Machado and Taylor Knox. Team OC, feeling the rhythm of back-to-back wins, wasn’t intimidated as Pat O’Connell and fellow teammates exchanged friendly taunts and jeers with the visiting squad. San Diego began the first quarter in strong fashion with Knox, Che Stang, Matt Yates and Austin Ware. Orange County responded with a potent combination of local talent Timmy Reyes, Brett Simpson and Danny Nichols along with Mike Losness to take the early lead with a combined quarter score of 46.5.
San Diego had their share of opportunities in the second quarter, but long lulls between waves and poor usage of timeouts led to an under whelming score of 28.75. Knox led a comeback attempt in the third quarter with a Game-high score of 16.5 points based largely on an incredible right-hander that featured a series of cutbacks into the foam. OC’s Simpson and Reyes were up to the task, however, responding with explosive 7.75 and 8.50 individual rides while substitute, Nate Yeomans, delivered a 7.75 effort.
San Diego entered the fourth quarter with their hopes riding on Machado and Dean Randazzo. Neither disappointed as Machado attacked the lefts, blowing out his tail while Randazzo awed the crowd with a mammoth front-side snap, awarding him with the most radical maneuver of the game. In the end, it was too little, too late and Orange County’s Mike Todd received the MVP of the Game.
Ventura came oh so close on Saturday, but despite the efforts of three-time world champion Tom Curren throwing power carves and “shooting the pier and former U.S. champion Tim Curran showcasing unbelievable maneuvers, including an incredible 10-point 360 degree air reverse in the closing minutes, they came up short, 180.5 to 185.5.
Questionable strategy may have contributed to their downfall with wasted timeouts and at least one poor substitution, rookie Nick Rozsa for Keith Malloy in the second half. “We’ve only had three practices,” admitted Coach Hayes, “those guys probably run these things every day. It’s a whole new system to get used to, and we’re still working out the kinks.”
Huntington Beach Coach Mike Parsons executed his Game strategy against Ventura flawlessly with well-timed timeouts and a critical substitution. Locals Reyes and Brett were consistent if not spectacular in the shoulder high surf. But Orange County’s veteran O’Connell summed it up best when he said, “We have good camaraderie, a lot of depth and we don’t make mistakes. Sounds like a winning team to me.”
The Hurley Game Weekend kicked off on Friday with the Orange County crew pitted against Santa Cruz, and began with over-head surf. However, as the tide dropped and the wind became increasingly onshore, local knowledge of the shifty peaks became paramount to victory. The hometown boys set the pace with in the first quarter with incredible scores from Losness, Ryan Simmons and Huntington Beach resident and Game MVP Reyes.
The OC team poured it on in quarters two and three with brilliant performances from O’Connell, Chris Ward, Mike Hoisington and Mike Todd. Todd was named surfer with the most radical maneuver when he delivered a Game closer of 14.25 in the final quarter, leading OC to a 188.25 to 142 victory.