The ball was tossed into a wide open space in the middle of the pool, with virtually no time left in the first period.
No man's land.
"Oh, no," bellowed Johansen girls water polo coach Brent Bohlender, one hand cupping his cheek, the other slung over his clipboard. "Not in the middle of the pool."
Not to worry, coach.
With a dash, Kyla Houck recovered the wayward pass and let loose with a shot at the buzzer, beating Enochs goalie Kathryn Mastache.
The goal was another strong statement from the Modesto Metro Conference's best all-around player.
Houck is dangerous at all spots and in all situations, including those that appear bleak and lost.
The crafty left-hander finished with four goals, two assists and more steals than Bohlender cared to count in an 11-1 victory over Enochs on Thursday afternoon.
"That's the best she's played all year," Bohlender said.
Agreed, said Enochs' Mikayla Walker.
"She has an awesome shot. She's plays great defensive. She plays really, really well," praised the Eagles' first-year coach. "She's the best player in our league, and it's hard to match up with that."
Victoria Reed had three goals, Morgan Seitzer two and Zoey Miller and Alyna Smith one apiece for Johansen.
The win keeps the Vikings (7-0, 11-2) undefeated in MMC play and surging toward next week's Western States, one of the premier girls water polo tournaments on the West Coast.
While Johansen isn't favored to reach the trophy round at Western States, Houck, a senior 2-meter defender and attacker, will be among the players to watch.
She was hard to miss on Thursday.
With the endurance of a distance swimmer, Houck treks all over the pool "She has to play 2 (meter) to 2 (meter), Bohlender said and rarely calls for substitution.
She tangles with the opposition's center on the defensive end, and uses the steal a statistic she's turned into an art form as a catalyst for the offense.
On Thursday, many of her steals resulted in tap-backs to Smith, who triggered the counterattack with long outlets.
"It feels glorious when I get the ball," said Houck, a third-year varsity player. "I like to take things from people. I guess I'm kind of mean like that.
"My focus is on defense," she later added. "I try to rely on the team for offense, (but) when I shoot it makes me happy."
With printed sunglasses, Houck was all smiles as the boys' match played to a 15-3 final in favor of Johansen.
She scored twice in the first period to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead. She pounded her first goal into the lower left corner of the cage midway through the period, finishing a long outlet from goalie Natasha Smith to make it 2-0.
But it was her buzzer-beater that seemed to deflate Enochs (3-4), which was shut out over the final three periods.
The play appeared to break down with an errant pass, and the period all but over.
Houck had other plans, easily winning a sprint for the loose ball.
"As a coach, you're saying, 'No, no, no
good shot, good shot, good shot,' " Bohlender said. "You see quite a few of those in basketball."
Averi Peterson tallied Enochs' only a goal off a rebound in the first period.