By Kevin Park
Photos by Brian Kojima
The varsity girls’ water polo team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF playoffs by the Los Altos Conquerors in a 12-10 heartbreaker at home on Saturday, February 20. This concludes the Tiger’s 2015-2016 season with an overall record 15-9 and league record of 4-4.
Tense and nervous, both teams set up on their sides of the pool with the stands filled with Conquerors fans, but few South Pas supporters. So. The first quarter began very slowly as each team fought desperately to gain possession. Los Altos put one on the scoreboard with a long 10-meter shot to give the Conquerors the 1-0 lead. In the next Los Altos attack, the Conquerors scored a long lob shot. Then, the opposing team added to their lead as a Los Altos attacker successfully swam past the defense and scored, increasing the lead to 3-0. Eventually, South Pas broke its offensive silence with a goal from senior Melody Gray to put the score at 3-1. With a nice set of passes, the Conquerors score a goal from the left wing to increase the score to 4-1. With already two ejections, freshman Sydney Shettleroe closed out the first quarter with a strong shot past the goalie to end the quarter 4-2.
The girls got even closer in the second quarter as sophomore Sumi Rudisky caught the ball and shot it at the five-meter mark to score a goal, cutting the lead to 4-3. Los Altos came back with a forceful shot and missed as the ball banged off the bar, but a Conqueror was able to follow up with the rebound and score to go up 5-3. The opponents increased its lead to 6-3, before sophomore Hayden Carlson received a penalty shot. The shot was saved, but Carlson scored anyway as she found an opening in the Los Altos’ defense to score and put the score at 6-4. Then, senior Savannah Pierce spotted up from five meters away and clinched a skillful goal to creep closer at 6-5. Unfortunately, Shettleroe was ejected from the game because she had totaled up three exclusion fouls. Missing a crucial player, South Pas allowed Los Altos another goal before halftime to increase the lead to 7-5.
The Tigers, still putting up a fight through the absence of a key member, continued to chip away at Conqueror’s lead in the third. The Conquerors struck first in the quarter with a skip shot past junior goalie Skyler Ramirez to make the score 8-5. Slowly it seemed as if the Tigers had lost hope when Los Altos added another goal to make it 9-5. However, Carlson sparked some life and swam forcefully through the defense to score a goal, cutting the lead to 9-6. The third quarter ended as Los Altos scored another goal to make the score 10-6.
As the Tigers took a brief timeout, the home crowd went silent. South Pas took advantage of the toned-down momentum came back in the fourth with a resilient force as Rudisky was able to get past her defender and put the Tigers back into the game, 10-7. South Pas quickly acted upon a Los Altos turnover and Rudisky again attacked the goal, scoring a goal to make it 10-8. With exactly three minutes left, Los Altos silenced the few South Pas fans with a long-range shot fthat went through multiple Tiger defenders to put the score at 11-8. However, Pierce drew a foul while swimming to press the Conqueror goalie. Pierce quickly got a shot off and scored as she caught the goalie out of position cutting the lead to 11-9. Los Altos then shut out any sign of hope as the Tigers conceded a goal by pressing Los Altos, therefore, leaving an attacker wide open to put the score at 12-9. Los Altos defeated the Tigers in a very close 12-10 game to move on to semifinals and eliminate the Tigers.
“We worked really hard and played together as a team which it was made us successful. I’m really proud of us that we made it this far thanks to our coaches and support from our families,” junior Brittney Jarjour. “Next year I think will be better because we proved to ourselves this year with what we were able to accomplish. With a lot of hard work and dedication we’re going to make it even further.”