The Knights girls’ water polo team is the best in the west: more specifically, in the Western League of the City Conference. With two nice wins over highly-regarded Cathedral Catholic and La Jolla High this past week, they vaulted to the top with an undefeated 6-0 season for the league crown. Winning over these teams that are also in the CIF-SDS Open Division also helped to secure a number-one seed for Bishop’s.
After an action-packed San Diego Open weekend and a non-league win over Torrey Pines on Jan. 28, the Knights had two remaining, meaningful Western League regular-season games on their menu. Neither game would be a shoo-in.
The first, on Jan. 30 against Cathedral Catholic at their pool, proved to be a challenge. Taking a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, the team seemed ready to put the squeeze on the Dons. But they persisted, easing one goal in with 2:47 remaining to get on the scoreboard and end the period down 2-1. Bishop’s won the sprint to start the second, but Cathedral would get the first score to tie things up at two with two ticks left on the shot clock. As if woken from a deep slumber, the Knights jetted back with three unanswered tallies, finishing the half with a five meter by Fia Sanders ’21 and a 5-2 advantage.
To begin the third period, Cathedral refused to fold and smashed in the first goal at 5:56 to narrow things to 5-3. Bishop’s snapped back, scoring twice at 5:06 and 2:58 to make it 7-3. It seemed the team had put the Dons far into the rearview mirror, but it was not the case. That seventh goal would be the Knights last score of the day. The fourth quarter proved to be a defensive demonstration by both teams. Cathedral posted a late goal with 1:03 remaining to notch a final score of 7-4.
Fia found the net four times, joined by Katie Scott ‘20 with two and Sierra Martin ‘20 with one. Part of the game story included 15 missed shots. Despite that, Sofia Stein ‘21 had six saves to punctuate the day.
But no rest for the weary! Just around the corner and down the road to the McCain Aquatic Center, the La Jolla Vikings, our always-talented neighbor, would bring their game on the evening of Feb. 1 for the final contest of the regular season. They were determined to reverse their 11-5 defeat at their home pool earlier in the season.
And they did not waste any time trying to make that statement. They won the initial sprint and went on immediately to score. The remainder of the quarter would be a scrum with each team pushing back and forth for the lead. When Bishop’s jumped out to a 4-2 margin at 0:56, the Vikings fired right back at 0:09 to make it 4-3.
In the second quarter, the Knights clamped down on defense. They held La Jolla scoreless and added two goals to establish a 6-3 lead going into the half.
But the Vikings would not passively cede defeat. They scored first early in the third period, narrowing things to 6-4. Bishop’s defiantly bounced back with two goals and expanded the lead to 8-4 headed into the final frame. The La Jolla seven once again drew first blood in the fourth, keeping things interesting. But a Sanders goal for the Knights with 2:19 remaining sealed the deal with a 9-5 win.
Sierra ruled with four goals throughout. Fia had two. Maggie Johnson ’22, Alex Bonaguidi ’22 and Katie each added one. Key in the match were 15 steals. Paige Geary ’19, Fia, Maggie and Katie had three apiece. Sofia Stein ’21 performed magic in goal with 14 saves!
This win set the stage for post-season play as Bishop’s closed out the season with a 19-7 overall and 6-0 Western League record. As aforementioned, this undefeated run delivered a league championship for the team. It also notched the Knights number-one seed in the CIF-SDS Open Division Playoffs. They will face number eight seed Rancho Bernardo on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. at La Jolla’s Coggan Pool. Congrats to the team for the league win. Now onto CIF glory!