Photo by Oscar Walsh
The girls’ water polo team fell to the Newbury Park Panthers in the first round of CIF, 16-10, on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The Tigers got off to a fast start, but couldn’t maintain their early intense defense in the second half.
Senior Sydney Shettleroe opened the game with a laser score into the right side of the net. On the defensive end, the Tigers expertly denied any pass into the middle of their defense, forcing the Panthers to look for opportunities around the perimeter. However, fouls and exclusions against South Pasadena allowed the Panthers to keep pace. At the end of the quarter, the Tigers held a slim 4-3 lead.
The Panthers could not stop the Tigers’ attack to start the second period. Senior Jael Osborne dominated the opposition, consistently gaining deep position near the net. South Pas easily lobbed the ball to Osborne, setting up easy shots on goal. Osborne scored three of her five goals in the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Gaining momentum, the Tigers ramped up the defensive intensity, surprising the opposition and leading to multiple turnovers. However, it caused South Pas to overextend and become too aggressive. During this stretch, Osborne picked up her third exclusion and was forced to sit the rest of the match, a crushing blow to the Tigers’ chances of a win.
The Panthers quickly took advantage, scoring four unanswered goals to end the half. The Tigers looked like a completely different team, struggling in all aspects of the game. Osborne was responsible for defending and denying the area in front of goal and without her, the Panthers saw many easy looks at the goal. The second period ended in a 7-7 tie.
The Tigers’ woes continued coming out of the break. The Panthers tightened their defense and South Pas could no longer pass the ball inside. On the other side of the ball, Newbury Park rattled off five scores in the quarter, taking a commanding 12-7 lead into the final period of play.
The South Pas offense got back on track in the fourth, as junior Kili Dickinson and Shettleroe each scored. Yet the Tigers late comeback fell short and the Panthers scored two consecutive to finally put the game to rest.
“I thought that we did a really, really good job coming out strong defensively. I think that they thought that they were going to move the ball a lot easier, [but] we forced them to earn what they were getting,” coach Sean Grab said. “But I think we got tired. With only nine girls, it’s hard to play a full 28 minute game, but I was proud of them for continuing to battle through it. Regardless of the what the scoreboard says, something we’ve talked about all year is that you continue to play and do things right no matter what.”
Despite an early CIF exit, the girls’ water polo team still enjoyed success in the season, placing second in the Rio Hondo League. The Tigers finish the year with an overall record of 8-12.