Girls Water Polo – CIF Southern Section (CIF-SS) completes Finals for 2013

February 23, 2013

CDMcrownFor the first time, CIF-SS combined all 7 Divisional Finals at the same site on the same day. Previously, some of the sites, due to geographical needs, were allowed to be in a different county. I can say, personally, that it was a great experience for all participants, officials and spectators that were able to witness an event of such magnitude — truly an accomplishment of diversity of high school sizes for CIF-SS. On the same day the CIF-SDS awarded three titles, CIF-SS awarded seven:

Division VII

Hemet poses for Team Photo after CIF win.

Hemet poses for Team Photo after CIF win.

The Hemet Bulldogs won the first game of the Finals with a 6-2 defensive stand against the Ocean View Seahawks. The top seeded Seahawks just kept mission goals — “we’re gonna remember the missed opportunities.” Head Coach Melissa Fernandez. The bulldogs, on the other hand, had hot goaltending from Senior Tabitha Del Carmen — “Yes, she had a great game and season, which was especially good since she didn’t play the previous two years very much due to health reasons.” Assistant Coach Brad Viereck.

Division VI

Yorba Linda can barely contain themselves!

Yorba Linda can barely contain themselves!

The second game was more defense than offense also, as Yorba Linda took a 4-1 lead entering the fourth quarter against Pacifica and held on for the 5-2 win. Head Coach Jeff Gorman: “We preach defense, and they delivered!” Sophomore 2MD Brittany Amaya: “We practice hard every day. We prepare for these close game situations.” They prepared well! It was Yorba Linda High’s first Girls CIF Title in school history.

Division V

The Championship Rings and their long season need of a home pool didn’t happen for the Riverside Poly Bears this time — but it did happen for the Crescenta Valley Falcons as they applied the afterburners to coast to a five goal 9-4 win. According to Poly Head Coach and friend Mike Cardey, “We’re disappointed, but we’re a young team, and our new pool is completed next week (finally).”

Crescenta Valley Seniors are all smiles.

Crescenta Valley Seniors are all smiles.

Falcons goalie, Senior Gabriel Isaccson, kept the Bears in check most of the game. ‘Wow. We worked so hard to finally get here! We’re just so mind blown right now. It’ll hit me tomorrow…”

Division IV

For the La Serna Lancers and Troy Warriors — it was the first time in the Girls CIF Water Polo Final.

CIF-SS Finals -- large crowds

CIF-SS Finals — there were large crowds at every game — this was La Serna vs Troy.

In one of the most entertaining games of the day, both teams had many counters and many opportunities. In the end, it was Troy who came from down 2-4 to take a 5-4 lead in the third and put the game away in the stretch, 9-5. Senior Co-Captain Alison Lany scored the final three goals of the match to give her 80 goals for the year. “We stayed in position to win. Forget the score. We never had a doubt (that we would win in the end.” Assistant Coach, also friend, Jim Crowther, “They were down 2-6 in Semis too. Now in Finals, came back. They never give up.”

Troy wins!

Troy wins!

Junior Shannon Grossman, who finished with four successive goals, most from long range, to tie the game, “We just had a strong desire to win. We came out to show we were special and end the season on a good note.”

Division III

Palos Verdes won the right as a #4 seed overcoming #1 Harvard Westlake in the Semi to advance to play the #2 Los Osos Girls Grizzlies. It was a well-fought game by both teams. quote from Junior Attacker Bridget Reynolds, “Heart and Hustle!” is what did it down the stretch, as she had a field block and a steal in the first half, then the final two goals off of assists from Senior Kristen Jensen to take a 7-4 lead early in the fourth quarter. But that wasn’t the whole story. At halftime, not content to sit on a 3-3 tie, Co-Coach Eric Cypher gave a heated pep talk to the team he shares with David Merryman: “Right here, right now! It’s our game to win the second half.” Then Jensen answered with two goals early in the third, and Los Osos held on for the win. (The Boys WP Grizzlies won CIF in the Fall.)

Los Osos makes it two Titles!

Los Osos makes it two Titles!

Palos Verdes tried hard to create the equalizer and force overtime with a 6v5 goal by Sophomore Kate Roan and a wide angle lob goal by Senior Ellie D’Ambra (coincidentally her 100th goal of the year!), but fell short 6-7.

Division II

Santa Margarita appeared to be the underdog in this final, falling behind Mater Dei 4-7 at half and 5-9 mid-third period. Sydney Blubaugh had a goal and assist before she fouled out with 3 majors for Mater Dei. Then one from each team got an ejection. Then Wan was gone (Santa Marg, with her third), early in OT2, and it seemed like the table that she had set was about to get cleaned up…please realize, senior Haley Wan had scored five or six or goals, many the “seeing eye upper corner” variety, one an “offspeed low arc lob” with only :21 to go in OT1… Now the team had to rely on the depth of not one but four non-starters in their front court and 6v5 situations…and respond they did! Junior Utility Sage Pfeiffer scored a garbage off a 6v5 and senior Attacker Tessa DeRecat scored a 6v5 from the post off a clean assist from frosh Sophia Baia with :08 to play for the victory.

Division I

Final Introductions

Introductions — Corona del Mar vs Newport

Corona del Mar won a wild one in the seventh and final Final of the day in the nightcap, 6-5 over Newport Harbor. As always with these two teams, it was counterattacks galore, great defense, and even greater team and individual playmakers. This game was also pretty balanced scoring, with one exception. Senior CDM Attacker Ally McCormick was clearly game MVP with 4 goals and 3 steals, completely setting the tone for her team, with drawing an ejection and receiving a “quick” pass for a goal right before time expired in the first quarter. And this was after falling behind 0-2. In the second quarter, CDM scored three goals off counters to take a 4-3 lead at half. Even though it was an early tie by Newport’s senior defender Avery Peterson in the third quarter, CDM exploded for two more counters to take the lead and press right to the end. Great work, ladies!

South Bay High School Surfing League Championships

February 23, 2013

Well, it’s still not happening. No SBSL High School Surfers. My wife, Shelley, went with me to photograph some great surfers in some great rides — but we quickly left the Hermosa Beach Pier for El Porto (North Manhattan Beach) as there was “no contest” at the first site. There was a super age group contest going on at the second site (with great waves) — sponsored by Body Glove, then Spyder, then Dive ‘n’ Surf, but no one knows when the HS Finals will be held… (I hope you’re not as disappointed as I was…)

CIF-San Diego Section (SDS) Division II Semi-Finals

February 21, 2013
CIF-SDS Division II, La Jolla

CIF-SDS Division II, La Jolla

Clearly the most intertaining day of the three-day six-game SDS Semis, #1 Valhalla took on #5 Rancho Bernardo and #2 Ramona took on #3 Steele Canyon.  The higher seeds won out, but it wasn’t until the very end of each contest that the final result was known. Neither game featured many counterattacks, as three of the four teams seemed to be sparing with their opponents.

The exception was Rancho Bernardo, who jumped to a 3-1 lead at half and 5-2 at the end of three periods based on great scoring efforts from Taylor Brown and Kiley Gansert, who had three goals each, and quick reacting saves in goal from senior Karen Chou, who had 14 blocks for the game. The only first half goal for Valhalla was a penalty score by sophomore Jasmine Miller, who also had a great defensive effort.

Early in the fourth quarter, Valhalla pressed the goalie; according to Coach Page Small, “We had to do something to keep the ball in our front court. Drawing the ejections for 6v5 was just what it took.” In that frame, Valhalla scored four of five with the extra player, primarily Colleen Ratliff shots off of assists from Roxy Herron. (Both ladies are juniors.)

Bernardo got back in the game with a senior sister pass from Anne-Marie Parkinson to her sophomore sister Hayley Parkinson, and then got a clean backhand goal from soph Zoe Brown.

What was cool was that Valhalla’s Herron scored an extra with :02 on the clock to salvage the tie in regulation and send the game to overtime. In OT, it was Valhalla senior Cortney Bayuk who scored the final two goals in the 9-8 (2OT) win, one with basically no time on the clock at the end of 1OT. Valhalla escaped and is back in the Final with a chance to exceed last year’s D-II Runner-up status. “Our top goalie, junior Lauren Adams, is out with pneumonia,” Coach Small said. “It was great that our backup, senior Christina Salazar, rose to the occasion to stop them in the end.”


Ramona Team Captains lead the pre-game cheer, CIF Semi-Finals!

The second game of the night was as classy as the first for intense competition. Ramona, the higher seed, entered its third CIF-SDS Semi-Final in a row. Coach Donnie Williams: “We were disappointed last year. Many of the girls have had a fever this week. I told them, ‘We’re going to face adversity all week.’ It was true. (Three girls had temps over 103 degrees.) Then, down 2-3 going into the second half, I told them, ‘keep up the pressure! Hold on!’ Then we made history — we’re the first Ramona team ever to make the CIF Finals!”

By the end, Ramona had erased the deficit and three goals each by Steele Canyon’s Hannah Neville and Autumn Schramm to win the game in regulation. Cassie Bernas scored three, two on counters, one assist from goalie Tiffany Larson, the other from Holly Smith. Smith tallied three for the game, the last two coming in the last two minutes from the left wing. At each of the last two time outs, one could hear the coughing, as the Ramona hardwork was taking its toll. According to defensive standout Jocelyn Schwegler, “Our Coach encouraged us, ‘Just make it!’ My thoughts, breathe…we can do this!” And they did — and their fans can breathe easier too that they’re in ‘THE FINAL’ for the first time ever!

CIF-SDS Division I Semi-Finals

February 20, 2013

Coggin Family Aquatic Center, La Jolla

A beautiful eventing at the Coggin Family Aquatic Center, La Jolla

Top-seeded Carlsbad anhilated Patrick Henry, 14-2, and second-seeded Torrey Pines did the same to sixth-seeded Westview, 15-6, in the nightcap. Both teams were counterattacking throughout the game, and that’s what I like to see!

Although the Carlsbad game started slow, the more solid team still had a 4-0 lead at halftime. “We were nervous at first, I don’t know why…” commented Coach Greg Horman shortly after the game. I think perhaps it was just defensive cautiousness. Lexi Domingo did have two great steals, one which led to a counterattack goal by senior Makena Magro.

Jaycee McNally, senior superlative for C-bad had five goals in the Semi (two in the tight first half). “She played super strong,” according to Horman.

Even Makena’s younger sister, sophomore Malia Magro, got into the act with steals, field blocks and assists to her sister, who scored a game-high six goals. Per the girls, post-game, “we’re proud of the team. We took over in the second half and ‘put them away’.” Good stage to set for the Final.

In the second game, senior goalkeeper Julia Hermann set the pace with 12 saves for Torrey Pines Falcons and a dominating 9-2 halftime lead, even though the Westview Wolverines gave it their all behind Alba Little-Sana.

Westview Girls WP 2013

A proud Westview squad after their D-I Semi-Final.

According to Coach Amy Jennings of Westview, “We had a bad exit last year in the Quarters. Although we were disappointed, we said, ‘not this time.’ So we’re pleased to make it this far.”

Quotes from Head Coach Heather Langridge of Torrey Pines, “Julia comes from a great athletic family. And she’s trained well. Much of that credit goes to our goalie Coach, Mike Rall.”

Highlights of the game included multiple scores byMichelle Martinelli (5), Crystal Lore (3), Haley King (2) and Kara Kezik (2). Kezik also had two beautiful assists. Even though being up at half, Coach Langridge said, “Don’t lay down. Stay focused.”

“We only lost 4-1 to Carlsbad early in the season. Although we were disappointed in the final last year (in fact have lost the last two to Vista HS and Carlsbad more recently), we said, ‘not this time.’ Now we’re in the CIF Final again and have a great opportunity.”

CIF-SDS Division III Semi-Finals

February 19, 2013

On a rainy, blustery day, The Bishop’s School of La Jolla, the number-one seed, handled Cathedral Catholic 15-5 to advance to the D3 Final for the sixteenth time against number-two seed La Jolla High, a 12-7 victor over Coronado. La Jolla fell behind 2-4 before scoring 3 to take a 5-4 lead just :04 before halftime, and overall the 5 unanwered goals put away the number-three seed.

Southern Section (CIF-SS) completes Quarterfinals

February 16, 2013

Over two dozen great games this weekend as 7 Divisions completed their Quarterfinal competion. I was fortunate to be able to attend two in Division III.

Arroyo Grande at Mira Costa

Mira Costa, the Bay League Co-champions with Palos Verdes, drew the #1 league seed via coin flip. It was clearly not the better route for the Bay, since Arroyo Grande was entering the game with 24 wins and only 7 losses for the season and over 100 consecutive League wins.

Seizing every early opportunity they had, AG mounted a four goal lead and held on the entire game, winning 9-4. According to head coach Steven Allen, “Best game of the Season for us! We did great in League, but just couldn’t put everything together until today.”

Team star Alexis Elias (4 goals), summarized her team’s play as “very motivated. We may have started a bit nervous, being away, but we played hard throughout and kept the momentum going.” When asked regarding ‘when she felt her team had enough cushion to coast to the win,’ she replied, “at the final buzzer!”

On the losing side, KAI~Polo made contact with scoring sensation Kaylee Brownsberger of Mira Costa. In true freshman exhuberation, she commented “Three more years!” as this Costa team is really young and has a lot to prove in the future.

Upland at Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes, the Bay League Co-Champions with Mira Costa, drew what appeared to be a worse seed against League Champion Upland. It was a very entertaining game. In true Southern California fashion, the game started ~35 minutes late as the Upland Team Bus was caught in traffic due to multiple events on the peninsula. After an even-paced warm up, the teams lined up for introductions, a nice touch since Mira Costa skipped those formalities.

Both teams had ample opportunities in the first half which ended in a 4-4 tie. Upland had the early edge as their #10, Junior Britt Harris, was all over the pool, stealing, assisting and scoring a couple  of goals for  an early 4-2 lead. But PV crawled back in to the game with a #4 Ellie D’Ambra pass to #7 Junior Kendyl Johnson for a quick shot. Following that goal, a beautiful Senior Goalkeeper Carly Radov outlet pass to Sophomore Kate Roan evened the scoreline right before halftime.

Then came the PV fireworks, led by Senior Co-Captains D’Ambra and Radov. D’Ambra (5 goals) was formidable in the field, scoring an 8-meter lob, drawing and taking a penalty shot for a goal, assisting on a counter attack, drawing another ejection and scoring on a skipshot, and then taking a final PV opportunity for a sweep shot as she posted up, 10-6 lead. It really didn’t matter to PV fans that Upland closed the gap to 10-8 at the end.

Post-game: Coach Pat O’Brien, “We’re ready for Semis!”

His star Goalie: Carly Radov, when questioned about the fantastic long bomb before halftime, “Coach usually tells me which side, but if he’s shouting other instructions to others (such as which way to cut), then I can make my own decisions (on the outlet pass). I just have to make sure it doesn’t sail too far.” And it didn’t…

On the losing side, all-around threat Britt Harris was also approached after the game. Her comments, “We came out strong, we sent them a message, next year we’ll be back and get to Semis.” Congratulations, Upland (and Mira Costa) on a great year, bowing out at this juncture.

[ed. note: Alexis Elias, see above, as a potential superlative Division I Utility pick — driver and set — was slated on scholarship to Colorado State University (CSU)…unfortunatelly, a day or two before signing, they dropped their Women’s Varsity Polo program… My opinion: She is the real thing — colleges/universities needing a quality player should contact her ASAP, as she’s most interested in playing Varsity.]

South Bay High School Surfing League Championships

February 3, 2013

Very interesting. I showed up for the SBSL Championships yesterday morning at the Hermosa Pier — and it was not happening. A beautiful day, but flat surf. We’ll need to find out when it’s rescheduled for…