For this Knights team, there is no shirking or lurking around for easy prey. They have headed into heavy winds, playing the best in the west, which pretty much means the USA. As steel sharpens steel, they have used the early part of the 2018-2019 campaign to craft a fine edge.
Like any improvement, it has not been without some pain. The big losses to Orange Lutheran (OLU) and Santa Barbara San Marcos (18-6, 14-7) were assuaged by big wins over El Toro, Agoura Hills, and Huntington Beach (10-5, 12-4, 15-9). These teams are all among the top programs in California, with OLU, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos vying to win the CIF Southern Section title.
Over the holidays, the tone of the season was no different. Accustomed to the 218-mile trip to the “American Riviera,” they would head to Santa Barbara to face two of the best teams in the state from Dec. 27-29.
Off to a good start, the Knights took down Ventura, 16-5. There was little doubt from the first sprint to the final buzzer that Bishop’s would prevail over the Cougars. By the end of the third quarter the team had taken a commanding lead, 11-1, before easing off to close the contest. Katie Scott ’20 led all scorers with four, joined by a bevy of twos from Fia Sanders ’21, Alex Bonaguidi ’22, Alex Scafidi ’22 and Sierra Martin ’20. Fia added five steals in the process.
The next two games were not so beneficent to Bishop’s, as the Knights first took on highly-regarded Dos Pueblos (Goleta) High. The Knights were up to the task but came up two goals short in a 9-7 loss.
This was a game that proved there is no give on the part of Bishop’s as the teams were tied 2-2 after the first. The Knights came up short at the half, down 6-3. Buckling down in the third, the girls once again met every Chargers challenge, matching up 3-3 in the period to allow DP to take a 9-6 advantage. In the fourth, Bishop’s held them scoreless, adding one to draw the final score in tight. Maggie Johnson ’22 had two scores and four steals in the match. Sierra also had two. Sofia Stein ’21 had six saves in goal.
The following day, the team would go up against the 2018 CIF Southern Section champion San Marcos High to truly test the waters. Unfortunately, the Chargers would double up on Bishop’s 14-7. San Marcos put down the pedal to take a 6-1 lead in the first and built it to 12-4 by the end of the third. Bishop’s did outscore them 3-2 in the fourth. Fia scored three and stole three. Alex Scafidi had four steals and Sofia Stein saved nine. By the end of this jaunt north, the Knights knew a lot more about themselves as they prepared for league play.
In the words of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” And a league game close to home against crosstown rival La Jolla High was next on the dais.
This was, despite the score, a close contest. On Jan. 3 the Knights visited the La Jolla pool and took a 3-0 lead into the half. The third period was where it all got interesting. Building a 5-1 advantage, Bishop’s allowed the Vikings to keep afloat. They got as close as 5-3 before a surge by the Knights asserted themselves to an 8-4 lead at the end of the third. Bishop’s jumped out early in the fourth, leading 9-4 and closing things out 11-5 to bring in the victory.
The Knights finished their holiday water polo extravaganza in another trip to the north, this time to Newport Harbor High. This match was another example of how much the team has grown in skill and confidence. Down 3-1 in the first, the Bishop’s squad hung tough, pushing the Sailors scoring two goals each in the second. The Knights got close again, down 5-4, but could never diminish Newport’s two-point lead, even though the team played them even at 4-4 in the second half. The game concluded with another tight 9-7 loss, but it certainly showed the team could go toe-to-toe with the O.C. Fia fired in four goals during the contest. Maggie Johnson ’22 had three steals and Sofia saved another eight in the net.
Sporting an overall 5-4 record, the team’s next game is a league match against the crew from Coronado. Always a formidable foe, the sprint will push off Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 4:30 p.m. at home. To conclude the week, the Knights will once again head north for the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions where they will play Thursday through Saturday against the same gnarly northern teams. First contest is at 4 p.m. on Thursday against Murrieta Valley High School in a play-in game.