In an official water polo match, a player who has earned three ejections (penalties) for over-aggressive play is removed for the rest of the game. By the end of the third quarter, senior Jamie Sacco had accrued a total of two such penalties. However, the stat-keepers for the game had recorded three ejections for the player, meaning that he should have been removed from the game during the second quarter. However, his third penalty was not reported to the officials until the end of the third quarter.
According to official rules, this meant that part of the game would have to be played again, starting from the end of the second quarter, at the time that Sacco had gained his third penalty. This action would completely nullify the entire third quarter, during which Mesa had gained a substantial lead over the opposing team, Westminster High School.
As players prepared to revert back to the second quarter, the game was stopped yet again. A new piece of evidence had turned up: at the time of Sacco's supposed "third penalty", he had not actually been in the field of play. Thus, there was no way for him to have actually earned the penalty. After several more minutes of deliberation, as well as some fiery tempers from both players and spectators alike, the game was reverted yet again back to the end of the third. Mesa ended up finishing the game 11-5 over Westminster.
Anyone with experience watching or playing water polo can tell you that such an event is highly unusual. In fact, Mesa's own polo coach had never experienced such a mishap in his approximately two decades of playing and coaching water polo. The whole game ended up taking over an hour.
Written by Quan Nguyen