2015 Fall CIF-SJS Playoffs – Sectional Semi-Finals

The CIF San Joaquin Section conducted a superior six-game session for Girls High School Water Polo, Tuesday November 10, at Johansen HS, Modesto, California. Tournament Director Brent Bohlender hosted the Semis for all three Divisions in this new format, since Division III was added to CIF-SJS this year.

Most exciting game of the day was the D-III opener between #1 seed El Camino (Sacramento) and #4 El Capitan HS (Merced). In a game that featured nine ties and eight lead changes, the result was not realized until the end of double overtime, El Cap winning 12-11.

El Capitan Girls Water Polo

The El Capitan team gives a cheer following its exciting win in CIF-SJS Semi-Finals.

According to winning Coach Kristie Dunham, “We had some serious foul trouble. We had to adjust with a zone defense late in the game, and our players showed a lot of composure in OT.”

As a new second year varsity program, El Cap excelled on both defense and offense. Scoring was balanced, with 2014-2015 KAI~Cal-HI All-America Junior Hope Stokes leading with five, followed by Marion Carpenter and Metztli Enriquez, two each, and Alexandra Jasso, MacKenzie Wenham and Evie Mumford one tally each.

El Capitan - Hope Stokes

El Capitan’s Hope Stokes glances back to receive accolades from her winning teammates.

“We needed the win to play on Saturday, so we had to dig deep inside,” Hope Stokes commented. “Coach told us entering overtime, ‘calm down and pull together.’ We did. We’ve been training really hard on taking the shot when fouled outside (the 5-meter mark). We’re super excited to be in THE FINAL!”

For eliminated El Camino, most goals and assists were traded by Seniors Kirsten Londeree, Rebecca Robinson, and Christine Wiley.

Second D-III Semi pitted #2 Kimball HS (Tracy) against tournament dark-horse Sonora HS. Although #6 Sonora had a 5-4 lead at half, with a tie at 5-5 and 6-6 in the third, Kimball scored six unanswered to clobber Sonora 12-6.

“We can score from anywhere, but 6-on-5s are our strength,” touted Kimball Coach Matt Gumpert. Primary go-to scorers were Kamryn Lucero and Michaela Smith, with superior goaltending by Aissa “AJ” Lee. Look for a great matchup in the Final.

The first D-II Semi again found the lower seed Del Oro jumping to a 6-3 lead in the third quarter, then 7-3 halfway through the fourth before ‘holding on’ to a 7-5 win over #1 St. Mary’s (Stockton). [Ed.Note: both St. Mary’s and Vintage HS (Napa) were realigned from D-I to D-II based on school population.]

“We were solid, top-to-bottom,” chirped Coach Jake Hastie, effervescent after the win. The proof was in Del Oro scoring, with tallies by Gabrielle Gazzaniga, Kiara Green, Carissa Johnson, Emelia Kingston, Lillian Stanwick — and Del Oro defense, with the girls “double-teaming the two lefties as part of the game plan” against St. Mary’s, Madasonne Butler and Hailey Williams — which kept them off the scoreboard for most of the game.

The second D-II matchup was #2 Vintage HS against #3 Oakdale HS, last year’s D-II Champion. This was defensive battle, 2-2 at half. Both senior goalies, Caitlin Golding, Oakdale, and Nathalie Brewster, Vintage, led their respective teams until the goal scoring of Senior Kate Allan and Junior Emily Bennett took charge of the game resulting in the 6-4 win. From vanquished Vintage, KAI~Cal-HI All-American Senior Kathleen Schafle scored all four, two on penalty shots, highly deserving of an “on the spot” award in a season-ending effort.

The CIF-SJS Girls Water Polo D-I result was the same for the last twelve years of Semi-Finals, with both Davis Senior High School and St. Francis winning and advancing to the Finals. [Ed.note: one of the 2003 Semis found Johansen HS winning…]

Advance words by Tom Brown, USA Olympic Development Program (ODP) Coach, “Both Teams should win easily, by ten, perhaps more, since both have ODP feeders from the Age Group level. In fact, Davis’ second seven are better than many schools’ first seven.”

Both comments played out, with Davis beating Lincoln HS (Stockton) 13-1 and St. Francis besting Lodi HS 10-3. Top goalkeeper in the Division appears to be Junior Katrina Sturm from Davis, but the number two may indeed be backup Freshman Emily Blackwell, who came on in the fourth with five stellar saves — the last on a 1-on-GK! Other great goalies Morgan Powell, Lodi, and Elle Minor, St. Francis, also drew notice.

Davis Senior HS Girls, under Coach Doug Wright, gather at twilight following their resounding CIF-SJS Semi-Final victory.

Davis Senior HS Girls, under Coach Doug Wright, gather at twilight following their resounding CIF-SJS Semi-Final victory.

On the offensive front, Davis’ starting six field players included Seniors Kendall Doten and Kinsey Van Deynze, Sophomores Scout Brown and Emily Tapio, and Freshmen Brooke Doten and Avery Warhover. For the record, all nineteen played, and the second six to mention were  Senior Megan Femling, Juniors Alena Alvarez, Alyssa Lengtat, Moira Williams, Tori Van Court, and Frosh Blackwell (in a field role).

Although eliminated, both Lodi HS and Lincoln HS played admirably. For the Lodi Flames, 2014-2015 KAI~Cal-HI All-American Senior McKenna Martin was pretty much controlled throughout by St. Francis’ defense, only scoring late in the last frame; picking up the bulk of the offense was Junior Olivia Grim, who, with 96 goals on the season, had several outside and inside shots, resulting in two goals in the Semi to go along with her two field blocks. As this season ended for these two teams, both Martin and Grim were “on the spot” and a class above the rest.

In the D-I Final, aside from Davis quick playmaking, look for St. Francis’ Seniors Julie Zanobini, Maggie Oys, Alyssa Tambornini, Caroline Urkov, Kira Chavez, Jennalyn Barthels and GK Minor contributing to try to knock of Davis, a feat the school has not pulled off since 2008.

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