The South Pasadena Varsity Girls Water Polo Team opened its season with a solid victory against Polytechnic School at home Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers led the entire match, eventually winning 13-8.
The Tigers took control of the game early, ending the first quarter with a 3-0 lead. The SP girls displayed cohesive teamwork on a 6-on-5 offensive power play, resulting in the first goal of the game. Accurate team passing and quick directional changes led to Tigers’ Sydney Shethleroe, catching the Poly goalie off guard with a strong corner shot.
The Tigers ended the first quarter just like they started it, with smart team play. South Pas found themselves on another 6-5 offensive power play due to Shehleroe drawing the foul against the Poly defense. Shehleroe quickly passed the ball to unguarded South Pas teammate Krystal Lee on the other side of the goal, manipulating the defense and forcing Poly to shift to the other side of the pool to cover Lee. Once the Poly defense crashed towards Lee, she passed the ball right back to a now wide-open Sydney, who easily put the ball in the net.
The South Pas defense starred in the second quarter, with three consecutive forced turnovers. The Tiger girls came out aggressive for the first play of the quarter, and played tight defense against Poly to force a turnover when the shot clock began to run down.
On the next South Pas defensive play, Hayden Carlson, displaying formidable strength, stopped a Poly offensive strike by pushing the ball deep under the water surface while Poly maintained possession of the ball. Carlson made sure to keep the ball submerged long enough to guarantee the referees called a turnover.
The Tigers led 6-3 at the end of the first half, feeling completely in control of the game.
Poly found some momentum in the third quarter, scoring five goals and narrowing the South Pas lead to just two goals at the end of the quarter.
“Defensively, we got careless with personnel as the game went on,” commented head coach Mike Gonzales after the game. “This was clearly the first game of the season.”
Poly kept their momentum in the beginning of the fourth quarter and trailed South Pas by only one point after a penalty shot. South Pas then shifted back into gear and took control for the remainder of the game, scoring four more goals in the fourth quarter and ending the game with thirteen points.
Assistant coach Sean Grab was proud of the way the team played but noted there is room for improvement. “We have a lot of capable girls, and if we want, we can do a lot of damage,” he said. “But we have a lot to work on, especially when it comes to building chemistry and communicating in the water.”
Gonzales also said there were “a lot of positive things to take away. We capitalized on our opportunities.” Mike is optimistic and looking forward to what the season will bring. “We are starting the process. It is going to be a journey. I am excited for the next 13 weeks,” said the coach.