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