Between all 8 Semi-Finals in the San Diego Sectionals, the ‘game of the playoffs’ this far was the Open Division, Game 2 nightcap on Thursday, February 25th, between Carlsbad HS, ranked number 3, and The Bishop’s School, ranked number 2. Not surprising, since this was the second year of the Open, pitting the top eight teams in SDS based on power rankings…
This game met the spectator’s expectations, as it was always within a point or two for the duration of the game — and 7-7 with :04 on the clock when Head Coach Doug Peabody called timeout for Bishop’s. In lieu of putting the Goalie at half tank to initiate play, Cap #5 Robyn Carter, a most accurate passer, was able to arc the ball toward the 2-meter line for either #6 Natalie Grayson, #7 Georgia Gilmore, or #8 Kayleigh Schultz, camped just in front of the goal. What happened next was a complete surprise to the C-bad goalkeeper, Erin Vaupel, as she ‘reached sky’ for the original pass, then sank as Schultz tipped in the ‘shot’ with a flick of her wrist for the game-winner.
Goalie Cassidy Ball of Bishop’s led the Bishop’s defense, shutting out Carlsbad in the first quarter and logging 12 saves in the match. Grayson, Gilmore, Schultz and Robyn Carter had two goals each for the victors. For the vanquished, Taylor Onstott had 3 goals, 4 steals, Bella Schmidt had 2 goals, 1 assist, Megan Phillips had 1 goal, 2 assists, and courtney Cox had a goal, an assist and a steal. Although down 3-4 at half and 5-6 at third’s end, Carlsbad was able to take a short lived 7-6 lead midway through the fourth prior to a late goal by Carter to tie and the :02 goal by Schultz to win.
The Open Division, Girls Water Polo Game 1 Semi, was upset-minded Valhalla HS against the top seed, La Jolla HS.
Unfortunately, this game did not meet with Valhalla’s desires as LJHS jumped out to a 4-0 first quarter and 8-0 halftime lead before Valhalla came untracked to tie the second half 6-6 for the net result, La Jolla 14-6 over Valhalla. La Jolla’s hot shooters with multiple goals included Sydney Boland and Lexi Atwell, 3 each, with Ciara Franke and Karli Canale, 2 each. For Valhalla, Gabby Martinez, Shayne Hill and Spencer Samuel got in the groove with goals in the second half.
Pre-game comments from Valhalla Head Coach Page Small: “This was our second year in Open. Last year we were the number 2 seed against 7 seed, Carlsbad, but the ‘power rank’ was in it’s early stages. Although they beat us, we were honored to be in the ‘Elite Eight’ of San Diego Girls High School Water Polo. This year, the ‘power rankings’ were better, especially since we beat Division I top seed, Vista, but lost twice to Westview, sot getting them as our opponent in the Quarterfinals, our 5 vs 4 bonus game, was an unexpected loss by them, but awesome for Valhalla! So, in the end, a SDS ‘Final Four’ as this season’s culmination is the best for our young team.”
Post-game comments from La Jolla Head Coach Keller Phelps: “We’ve been working on our Team Defense all year. We watched the Westview-Valhalla game and knew that to win we would have to hold them to a ‘handful of goals.’ Our double- and triple-teaming at set was ‘on’ and we shut Valhalla out in the first half. Not sure about either Bishop’s or Carlsbad as our Finals opponent–either will be tough. Bishop’s has a lot of swim-motion; Carlsbad does a better post-up slide. For either, we just have to score and hold them to another ‘handful.'”
A day earlier, in other Semi-Final games 24 February, San Diego Division I top seed Vista clobbered Torrey Pines 11-6 and number 2 Fallbrook outlasted number 6 Rancho Buena Vista 7-5. Since I was fortunate to be able to attend D-I Semis, here is a short synopsis:
- The Vista Panthers, led by Juniors top scorer Emma Franck (5 goals) and goalkeeper Xochiie (pronounced Sochi) Torres (5 saves), jumped out to 4-1 first quarter and 7-2 halftime leads before wearing down the Torrey Pines Falcons in game 1 of D-I Semis. Although Torres only had a handful of saves, three of them were on point blank 1-v-1 attempts that emotionally drained the life out of the Falcons. Also to mention, Senior Samantha Witt had a goal, two assists and three steals.
- In the nightcap SDS D-I Semi, the Fallbrook Warriors had a 7-2 lead early in the fourth quarter, only to survive a three-goal barrage and scare from the Rancho Buena Vista Longhorns, where both goalkeepers, Jordan Heimback and Taylor Becerra, played outstanding! Fallbrook was paced by Jasmine Patterson with a drive-in goal, then a sweep shot goal off a clean wet pass assist from Taylor Dowden, who also had a drive-in goal and a direct-freethrow from outside 5-meter; RBV was relying on 2-meter sets Senior Megan Coffin and Freshman Sarah Funfshilling early on, but they were shut down by the Warrior defense. Then, at the end, it got interesting. Sophomore Morgan Goodrich had three steals, one setting up Senior Ginal Corpora assist to her classmate Cheyenne Elton, followed by two more 6-on-5s with goals by Junior Casey Frame, assist Funfshilling, and a nice sweep shot by Coffin to end the game on an ‘up note.’
Earlier Semi-Finals, results for the record, although yours truly did not attend:
- Division II, 23 Feb, number 1 Mar Vista 4-3 over number 4 Clairemont; number 2 Serra 8-5 over number 3 Olympian
- Division III, 22 Feb, number 1 Hilltop 12-3 over number 4 Point Loma; number 2 Scripps Ranch 7-2 over number 3 West Hills