Girls HS Polo Central Section (CIF-CS) Finals — this year underway and flourishing!

November 17, 2012

The 2012-2013 year is well underway with the Fall 2012 in Central and Northern California concluded successfully! This past week was a great experience for me, observing many competitions and feeling that girl’s water polo continues to advance at both a State and Regional level…

The Golden Gate Bridge, storm coming in...Call this a Travelog — or call this a Travelblog — or how about a Travel-log-blog? — after about 1600 miles of driving, from LA to San Jose, to as far north as Marin County, then south and back to the center of the great state of California, I was able to witness first hand six games spanning four divisions in CIF-CS and CIF-CCS. Here’s the synopsis:

Main thrust — for 2012, CIF-CS D-I rocks, and they’re on par with CIF-CCS D-I and II.

CIF-CS Championship Line-up

CIF-CS Division I Championship Introductions
Clovis Cougars vs. Clovis West Eagles

FRESNO: Clovis HS, back-to-back 2010 and 2011 Champions, hosted Clovis West, 10-time past Champions, in a thriller worthy of a Championship-rivalry-clash! It was my extreme pleasure (finally) watching the  phenomenal junior Mary Brooks score six, grab three steals, and make three field blocks in her teams’ 9-7 win after jumping to a 3-1 first quarter lead. West scored on several counterattacks and maintained a 2-goal cushion throughout, 5-3 at half and 8-6 at third, with three additional goals by freshman sensation Sarah Snyder, who added an insurance goal with less than a minute to go. The story of the match was the well-balanced West defense that forced their opponent to waste lots of possession time on the perimeter…

Cougar Land

Cougar Cheerleaders and crowd root for the home team!

I should mention the past Champions — what a great team they are! Let by last year’s Valley MVP, Hannah Harvey, who had 2 assists and 2 steals, but was keyed on throughout the game,  the Clovis Varsity worked hard to get back into the match with goals by seniors Maecie Collard and Kylie Wheelock and sophomores McKenna Hauss and Miranda Coleman, but were unable to equalize when it was needed. Interesting to note, five senior starters, of the eight seniors overall, are destined to play Intercollegiate Varsity as offers are in the making! [I hope to follow up on this note, as the lucky schools look to include UC Davis (Harvey), UOP (Catie Mahnke), CSU Monterrey Bay (Wheelock), CSU Long Beach (Ashlee Coleman) and potentially San Jose State (Collard) — I’m rooting for Maecie to get picked up by SJS as she had a great HS career and would be a fit for coaches Lou Tully and Johnny Bega, in my estimation.] 

VISALIA, Golden West HS: Good news, it was a good game for the Division II Championship between Hanford West and San Joaquin Memorial (SJM), 10-5 in favor of the top seed Hanford West, who had already beaten SJM earlier in the year. Questionable news, I need to mention, is that the venues for the three Divisions NEED TO BE CONSOLIDATED — as both CIF-CCS and CIF-SJS does —

which would promote a better understanding of what the different play is like in the different Divisions. [Note: instead the Division Sectionals are hours and miles apart, which clearly keeps knowledge separate, unfortunately.]

Back to the game itself… Although led by spirited SJM play by Brie Fleming and Katelyn Cordoza, Hanford West had Co-Captains Dagmar Gudmundsson and Katelyn Hatfield, as well as 2m Set Kaelyn Caretto control the ball and the scoreboard throughout the contest. Caretto assisted to Gudmundsson for the first goal, then scored a backhand and a sweep from set to take a 3-0 lead after one period. In the second, Cordoza and Fleming each scored to draw within one, but then Caretto and Gudmundsson stretched the lead to 5-2 and half and 7-4 by the third, all from set plays in front court offense. Surprisingly  (for me) there were no counterattacks during the contest.

[Final anecdote: it was kinda cool that, on the way to the Golden West HS pool, one had to drive up “Lover’s Lane” to get from the freeway to the campus… makes you glad to be home!]

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CIF-Central Coast Section (CIF-CCS) Semi’s

November 15, 2012

What a great experience! CIF-CCS Division I and II Semi-Finals! Great plays by great players…again, it was my pleasure observing and enjoying super playmakers in four super contests, highlights follow:

CIF-CCS Division II Semi-Final Introductions
Saint Ignacious Wildcats vs. Presentation Panthers

Semi-Day 1, Game 1, Division II, St. Ignatius 9-4 over Presentation:  in a game where Presentation had difficulty scoring, Saint Ignatius scored enough early, then put the game away with four unanswered goals at the end, primarily relying on the strength of their senior Goalkeeper, Francesca Puccinelli, and her eleven saves, three steals and one assist. The winning Wildcats were led by Carla Tocchini with four goals, two assists and two field blocks, and her senior teammates Susan Providenza (2 goals, 1 assist) and Caoimhe Slevin (1 goal, 1 steal, 1 field block) also contributed.

Words of Wisdom…

Shown at left are Referees Rachel McCracken and Jorge Aguilera giving instructions to the Saint Ignatius Co-Captains Francesca Puccinelli, #1, Carla Tocchini, #11, and the Presentation Co-Captains Lesley Kerley, #11, and Josephine Andrews, #5, prior to the start of their match.

Semi-Day 1, Game 2, Division II, Sacred Heart Prep (SHP) 11-5 over Castilleja:  my Coastal Cal friend Brenda Villa (3-time Olympian and recent Gold Medal winner for TEAM USA) is the head coach of Castilleja, and she and her assistant, Kim Krueger, had their work cut out for them as their #4 seed was facing D2 #1 SHP. It was not to be for her “Gators,” as the (also) “Gators” of SHP jumped out to a 6-0 lead at halftime, then cruised to 9-3 after three. Senior driver Grace Arnold of Castilleja led all scorers with 3 goals, but SHP had several girls with goals — starters P.J. Bigley, Bridgette Harper, Malaika Koshy, Morgan McCracken and Caitlin Stuewe all scored — as well as Camille Zelinger as the reserve set. Head Coach of SHP, Jon Burke, was quite pleased with his club’s control of the game on both offense and defense, which should lead the way to a sixth consecutive D-II Championship.

Semi-Day 2, Game 1, Division I, St. Francis 11-7 over Archbishop Mitty:  Saint Francis was the most well-balanced team of the west bay area, turning a 6-4 halftime lead into a 9-5 third quarter domination of Mitty. Katherine Moore, Francis’ junior goalkeeper, had 9 saves, one on a 1-on-GK, 2 assists and 1 steal to lead her ballclub of almost all juniors to the victory. Although Mitty had a strong performance by junior Center Forward Sabrina Sherrin, Francis’ starters Courtney Batcheller, Brittany Kirwan, Eela Ngaraj, Tegan Stanbach and Sami Strutner all scored. Going in to the D1 Final, confirmed by Saint Francis Head Coach Brendon Ruetebuch, his team only had losses to CIF-NCS foes Campolindo and San Ramon, NCS D2 and D1 Champions respectively, and CIF-CS foe Clovis West, eventual D1 Champion in that section… Nice work, ladies!~

Semi-Day 2, Game 2, Division I, Leland 8-7 over Menlo-Atherton:  clearly the most competitive/closely contested game of the four. Leland, with its 22 win record, was clearly the stonger, quicker, better skilled ball club, but could not manage a score in the first half when needed and fell behind 0-1 in the second period, barely to score a lob goal before halftime to draw even. In the third quarter, speedy seniors Alison Griffeth, Jamie Nolan and Katie Peck, connected on five counterattacks to jump ahead, only to let Menlo close the gap with extra player opportunities cashed-in. Griffeth had 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 goal to go along with Peck’s assist, steal and field block, but it was Nolan’s 5 goals that led the game. Jessica Heilman of Menlo had 4 goals, many of the “5+ direct-free throw type” following a misplaced ordinary foul by Leland players. None-the-less, the last opportunity was bar-down no-goal, and Leland advanced as predicted.