This girls’ water polo contest was fought in the trenches and could only be described as out-and-out combat. With 18 ejections, it was a push and shove, no holds barred donnybrook. Bishop’s lengthy rivalry with Coronado High is no secret. The hearty crowd that took to the stands on Wednesday, Jan. 9 witnessed a water polo match to remember.
The Islanders garnered the first ejection with scarcely 30 seconds into the first period. They also scored the first goal with 5:43 remaining. This started a stream of back-and-forth scoring that left the outcome of this defensive struggle in doubt to the very end.
Bishop’s came back with two straight goals to take the lead, only to have Coronado lock it up at two at 3:32. Undaunted, the Knights closed the first with a power goal off the surface by Fia Sanders ’21 to take the team’s first lead of the game at 3-2.
In the second, the Knights jumped to a 4-2 lead on Katie Scott ’20’s third score of the game. But the Islanders grasped back the momentum at 2:55 and 2:17, scoring two goals within 38 seconds to tie the game at four and knotting things up at the half.If you expect to play like champions, you have to go up against champions.
The third period was wild and wooly, featuring five goals and six exclusions. Bishop’s jumped to a two-goal lead at 6-4 only to have Coronado tie it up again at six with 1:30 left. The Knights quickly came back to curb their enthusiasm, scoring on a Fia five-meter at 1:18 to take a 7-6 lead. The girls held Coronado scoreless in the fourth (including a missed five-meter), adding one more goal to close things at 8-6.
This was a big Western League win. Katie and Fia scored four goals each and Sofia Stein ’21 ruled the net with 10 impressive saves. Mia Salatka ’20 led the team with six steals.
That is just what girls’ water polo did immediately upon the heels of their big home victory over Coronado. It was back up the 101 again to the central coast into the hotbed of high stakes Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions (TOC) play. Going 2-3 in the tourney, these trips north are making the team better, stronger and faster. The Knights would face four teams ranked in the top seven in the Southern Section.
Things started out well enough for the Knights as they took on Murrieta Valley on Jan. 10. Bishop’s jumped to an early 5-2 lead in the first, never to relinquish the upper hand. The Knights finished with a 10-6 win over the Nighthawks. Fia Sanders ’21 fired in four goals with Alex Bonaguidi ‘22 and Mia Salatka ’20 adding two apiece.
Friday afternoon unveiled an interesting duo of games, both ending in sudden death overtime. At 3:30 p.m., Bishop’s faced Santa Margarita Catholic and for three quarters held them at bay, leading in each of the first three quarters. Taking a slim 7-6 into the fourth, the Knights allowed the Eagles back into the game, finishing regulation tied 9-9. To Bishop’s credit, they dug in and won 10-9 in the overtime. Alex B had five goals in this game. Fia, Katie Scott ’20 and Alex Scafidi ’22 all added two. Remarkable in this contest were the 16 saves by Sammie Stone ’20.
The second contest that day did not come until 6:30 p.m. and the Knights would have to face Orange Lutheran High (OLU), a team they had lost to 18-6 earlier in the year. That was a distant memory, however, because Bishop’s came out slugging. They established a 2-2 tie in the first, but fell behind 5-3 at the half. The team fought back, outscoring the Lancers 3-2 for a 6-6 deadlock when the clock ticked down. This overtime did not end so well, as the girls game up short, 7-6 in sudden death. Playing OLU, the eventual tournament champion, so close was a big deal. Alex B and Sierra Martin ’20 scored two apiece. Sammie had another 12 saves and Fia had five swipes. Despite the score, this loss felt a lot like a win.
The final day of the tourney, Jan. 12, was not so nice to the Knights. The schedule doubled down on teams from Newport, and they didn’t treat Bishop’s kindly. They began the day in a contest against fifth-ranked Corona Del Mar High. Sporting an 11-3 record, the Sea Kings hit the pool swimming. They took a 3-1 lead in the first, a lead they would continue to build on. They stretched their lead to 7-2 in the third, easing off a bit for a 9-4 final. Fia had three of the Knights’ four goals. Sammie added seven to her save total.
The tournament closed out with a game against a familiar opponent, Newport Harbor High. The Knights lost a close 9-7 contest to the Sailors on Jan. 5. This contest would be déjà vu all over again for Bishop’s. The girls were tenacious in this match, never giving in. Behind 2-1 after the first, the Knights came back to tie things 3-3 at the half. That momentum spilled over to the third quarter, with Bishop’s taking the lead 7-6. But that would be all the team could muster as the Knights went scoreless in the fourth and the Sailors added three to win 10-7. Fia led the scoring with four goals and Sierra had two. Paige Geary ’19 and Fia had three steals each. Sammie stopped eight in goal.
Finishing the tournament with a 2-3 mark, the team competed hard and with every stroke, every pass, every shot, every steal, every score and every save, this Bishop’s squad just keeps getting better and better.
They hit the water again today, defending their 8-7, 2-0 record at 4:30 p.m. at home against staunch rival Cathedral Catholic. The fun will continue on Thursday, Jan. 17 as they take on La Serna High (Whittier) again at the McCain Family Aquatic Center with the sprint also at 4:30 p.m.