A Big Splash in Water Polo

The South Pas High girls varsity water-polo team in action Wednesday against Hoover. The Tigers won, 12-5, at home. Photo by Ahmad M. Akkaoui

The SPHS girls varsity water-polo team dominated Hoover High at home on Wednesday to earn the Tigers’ first win of the season after back-to-back losses to Notre Dame on Nov. 19 and on Tuesday.

The Tigers opened the season in November against Division 3 opponent Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks and lost that game 21-3. South Pas then hosted Notre Dame on Tuesday and lost 17-7.

South Pasadena’s 12-5 home win against Division 6 opponent Hoover on Wednesday was much the opposite.

Head coach Michael Gonzales said his team learned a lot after those two games against Notre Dame but likes the variety in the team’s schedule.

“Notre Dame is a Division 3 opponent, Hoover is a Division 6 opponent and we’re a Division 4 team, so it was kind of a nice spectrum on both ends,” he said.

“A lot of teachable moments in those Notre Dame games, but I think it’s really cool for the group to see that they can put together really competitive possessions against a team like that, and Notre Dame is a really solid team. Fortunately, the opponents that we do have on schedule allow us to find success with some things and find competitive games but also show us where we need to improve.”

Gonzales is taking over the team after the former coach left to coach water polo at another school. He is also the coach for the boys team at South Pas.

The Tigers did a good job at setting the tone early after scoring two goals in the first minutes of the game. South Pas was able to score another and had a three-goal lead at the end of the first.

South Pas was able to score five straight goals before Hoover scored just before the halftime horn.

The Tigers’ dominance continued as they scored five goals in the third quarter to take a 10-3 lead going into the final period, and they finished the game off strong with two more goals to take the victory.

Freshman Grace Markus led her team with five goals while three others had two goals apiece. Junior Amanda Kanaly had one goal but was feeding Markus all game.

“I think we did a good job of settling into the game a little bit earlier, and our girls knew what they were capable of doing against this opponent,” Gonzales said.

“It was nice for them to get into a rhythm a little bit early. … Grace Markus — she’s awesome. She’s a freshman this year. A freshman player that’s been really grinding hard and plugged into her club season. She’s an incredibly hard worker, and we’re really excited to have a team that can really have her heavily involved as much as she is. I thought she played fantastic, and I thought Amanda did a great job for us too. We rely on those two a lot.”

Gonzales said he hopes to improve the program over time. The team has lost a lot of seniors over the years and needs a slightly new beginning.

“There’s a lot of things we can improve on, but I think the kids have been really bought in with just doing a lot of fundamental and technical work right now,” he said.

The girls were to begin the Villa Park Tournament at Villa Park High in Orange County on Thursday against The Bishop’s of La Jolla at 4 p.m.