Girls water polo crush Ayala, 23-0, in league opener

They have been the team to beat for two years running, and it looks like the Claremont High School girls water polo team wants to make it three.

The Pack looked unstoppable last Thursday as they sailed past Ayala, 23-0, during both teams’ Palomares League opener at Charter Oak High School. Claremont was well coordinated and executed plays perfectly, however, not all games this season are likely to go as smoothly.

Coach Gary Cheever said that league was going to be tough and that Glendora in particular will be hard to beat. The girls will find out just how tough the Tartans are when they meet on January 9.

“I think all of the teams in our league are the top teams in the area, but I have my eye on Glendora,” Coach Cheever said.

Because of the ongoing construction of the CHS pool, Thursday’s match was technically at home for the Pack. The girls will have all of their home games as well as regular practices at Charter Oak.

The scheduling requires a bit of gymnastics, with Claremont having “home” games when Charter Oak’s own water polo team is away. The Pack practices only after the Chargers are finished. On the plus side, it is actually a very nice venue with a new pool.

The hassle of traveling to every game and practice has taken a toll on the team,  as Coach Cheever only has 28 girls this year down from a high of close to 50 last season.

As a result, they do not have a freshman team and the varsity bench is rail thin. The risk, of course, is that they have no room for injury or illness to sideline any players.

“We lost a lot of girls because we aren’t practicing at Claremont,” Coach Cheever said. “The Charter Oak coach has been great and really helpful and easy to work with and we appreciate that.”

Last season the Wolfpack was undefeated in league play, earning a second consecutive title. Coach Cheever has put together a coalition of young players, many of whom are seeing their first action on a varsity team. He does have four seniors, including Maddie Waasdorp and Tamara Holstrom, who have been on the varsity team all four years.

“We have a very young team, we have four returners from last season and two girls who came off the bench. One is now our goalie. We have one freshman and the rest are up from our frosh/soph team,” Coach Cheever said.

The Pack’s secret may be in the girls’ dedication, playing club water polo in the off season as well as practicing as a team all year.

After the winter recess the girls will be back in action, with an away game against Alta Loma on January 7 followed by another road game against Glendora two days later.

—Steven Felschundneff


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