Girls’ water polo defeated by La Cañada

Story by Abigail Kim
Staff Writer

Photos by Zoe Chen
Staff Photographer and Staff Writer

Girls water polo fell to La Cañada at home on Jan. 16, after a huge Spartan comeback during the second half of the game.

“I was really proud of the way our team played, especially considering the progress from last year’s La Cañada game to this year,” junior goalie Reese Buckley said. 

The first quarter started off strong for the Tigers with a quick goal by junior Lana Encinas. Strong defense from South Pas blocked many of the shots from La Cañada attackers, and the first quarter ended with the Tigers up one point. 

The second quarter also looked promising for the Tigers. Shortly after it began, freshman Ruby Meyer scored with a well-placed shot. After the goal, La Cañada attempted to shoot the ball but was blocked by Buckley. The next play, sophomore Cora Bild passed to freshman Hayun Lee, who connected with sophomore Ellen Leung. However, the shot clock hit zero before Leung had the chance to shoot.

Buckley successfully blocked a couple of shots on La Cañada’s possession, but the Spartans were able to score their first point, putting the score at 2-1. The Tigers managed to successfully counterattack in a combination play with Bild, Leung, and Encinas. With 2:47 left of the second quarter, and the Tigers up 3-1, La Cañada’s coaches called a timeout. 

Swift passes were made between Buckley, Leung, Lee, and Bild after the time out, but their attempts were blocked and La Cañada scored yet again. However, the Tigers were quick to respond. Passes between Buckley, Lee, Meyer, Encinas, and junior Cleo Walker helped the team to their fourth goal. The Spartans tried to score, but were unsuccessful, ending off the second quarter with a score of 4-2. 

The third quarter proved a turning point, starting with La Cañada intercepting the ball from the Tigers. Though Buckley made many saves, the Spartans still scored, leaving the score at 4-3. Both teams then stopped to regroup, with South Pasadena was trying to hang on to their lead. Although South Pasadena tried their best to pass the ball around, La Cañada’s defense was strong, and they proceeded to score another goal, tying up the  score. Buckley and Meyer worked together to try and secure a goal to bring their lead back, but ended up getting blocked. 

La Cañada then proceeded to score, putting them up for the first time during the game, the score 5-4. Buckley tried to block a shot, but missed, leaving the Tigers down two points, 6-4. La Cañada seemed to be shooting left and right, and scored yet again, their fourth goal in the quarter. The third quarter capped off with Buckley making a goal all the way from the other end of the pool.

La Cañada picked up their game in the fourth quarter. The Tigers began in possession of the ball. Leung passed to Meyer, but a Spartan player intercepted the ball. Before the Spartans could get the chance to shoot, Lee blocked it. Buckley, Lee, Walker, Encinas, and Leung all passed it around, trying to score some points, but the Spartans kept their guard up. Unable to score, the shot clock hit zero, and La Cañada were in possession of the ball. Although one failed attempt at scoring a point, they were able to retrieve the ball and score, putting the score at 8-5. 

Attempts by Walker, Lee, and Buckley were strong, but not strong enough to fully guard the Spartans. After a couple of missed shots by the Tigers, La Cañada scored yet again, pulling the gap farther and farther apart. 

South Pasadena tried to make a comeback, but with just under three minutes left of the game, the Tigers struggled to keep up. La Cañada had the ball, and with the shot clock having just a second left, they scored, putting the score at 10-5. Junior Sabrine Ornelas and sophomore Milla Humphrey tried to work with Buckley to score, but they did not have time as the shot clock ran out. As the quarter ended, the buzzer went off, ending the game with a 5-10 loss for the Tigers. 

“They played fantastic. They worked really hard together. And you know, it kind of slipped away from us at the end, but we’re improving every game,” head coach Lindsey Garcia said. 

The Tigers’ next game will be away on Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. against Monrovia.

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