Girls soccer upset, water polo cruises to 17-10 win

You win some and you lose some. And that was exactly how it played out for Claremont High School’s two Palomares League champions in the first round of the CIF playoffs Wednesday night at home.

Both girls soccer and girls water polo came into the competition as favorites, with undefeated records and the home team advantage. But only water polo will move on as they defeated Newbury Park, 17-10. However, the soccer team will have to wait until next year since they fell to Camarillo, 3-2.

Both games started at exactly 5 p.m. on a chilly night at CHS. Both teams struggled at first, with Newbury Park matching Claremont goal for goal through the first quarter, while Camarillo held the Pack to a 0-0 tie at the half.

The difference came in the second half as Claremont steadily pulled away from Newbury Park, while Camarillo took control, scoring first, and putting Claremont on the defensive.

In the pool, Claremont senior Helena Sandhagen was unstoppable, scoring the Pack’s first two goals like it was shooting practice. This led the Panthers to double or even triple team her the rest of the night, which just opened up opportunities for Sandhagen’s teammates.

Claremont had a strong offense all night, but the girls’ defense struggled, which is something they will have to fix as they move further into the bracket.

“I think it was just that first game of the playoffs jitters,” Coach Gary Cheever said. “We opened up like that last year against Dana Hills.”

Next up, Claremont will have an away game against Mira Costa on Saturday in Manhattan Beach.

“Looking at Mira Costa, we have two common opponents with them playing St. Lucy’s tonight, so that will be a good indicator of how we match up,” Coach Cheever said. “Our side of the bracket is the toughest. I think it’s going to be close from here on out, but I think we match up well.”

Asked about his team’s undefeated league record, Coach Cheever was understandably upbeat.

“It was fun top to bottom, all of our girls enjoyed it. I have been here four years and when I first came in we were not at the top, but now that we are I aim to keep it that way.”

The Pack buried Alta Loma, 19-0, on Thursday to finish league with a perfect 10-0 record. They are 23-4-0 overall with Wednesday’s win.

The first-round loss for girls soccer was a heartbreaker, as the Pack came into the match with only one other loss all season and a considerably higher state rank. But Camarillo got on the board mere minutes into the second half with a goal from Junior Malia Baker, which amped up the pressure.

Claremont came right back a few minutes later when Tyler Higuera passed to Emily Maass for the tying goal. Claremont then went ahead, following a foul just outside of the Scorpio penalty box. Janelle Gutierrez’ penalty kick easily flew past the Camarillo goalkeeper.

Claremont held on to the narrow lead until the eight-minute remaining mark when junior goalkeeper Lauren Kunda made a stop, but lost contact with the ball, leaving Camarillo sophomore Marli Hodges in front of a wide open net.

The winning goal came about a minute later when junior Mia Alcozar sailed a Hail Mary at Kunda, leaving it just out of reach.

“Claremont has a very good team, it really could have gone either way,” Camarillo Coach Bryan Monka said after the match. “But our girls stepped up and delivered.”

“We didn’t play well tonight. I failed in not getting the team prepared well enough to play in this match,” Claremont Coach Tim Tracey said. “In a nutshell, you have to go out and create your own success. You can’t rely on rankings, you have to go out and play each match. You really can’t shoot yourself in the foot by giving away easy opportunities.”

Still, it was a great year for Claremont and somewhat unexpected, given the large number of inexperienced players on the field.

“For us to do as well as we did this year is a compliment to our seniors, who led the team, and to our underclassmen who played hard. We are looking forward to big things for next year, it’s unfortunate this happened tonight,” Coach Tracey said.

Soccer also had a perfect 10-0 record after defeating Ayala, 4-0, at home on Wednesday. They end the season with a 19-2-3 record overall.

—Steven Felschundneff


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