CHS girls water polo earn top ranking
When the girls water polo season started two weeks ago the Pack wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but then they started to win.
They defeated nearly all comers, including highly-ranked Palos Verdes and Esperanza, only losing once to Valhalla, a Division 1 team from El Cajon. So when the CIF Division 3 rankings came out this week, the Pack had surged to the top.
“We weren’t on the watch list based on last years rankings, and I’m guessing [the number-one ranking] is based on the games we played so far,” Coach Gary Cheever said.
That winning spirit was on full display Wednesday night, as Claremont defeated number-five La Serna, 14-8, in a hard-played match at the CHS pool.
Claremont got on the board first when sophomore Maddie Waasdorp scored after La Serna’s goalkeeper Katie Verdugo got an exclusion, forcing one of her teammates to fill in at the net. La Serna quickly answered when Casey Barragan evened the score on a Claremont exclusion.
Both teams traded goals into the second quarter, and it was looking like the teams would be tied 5-5 at half, when senior Lauren Hoyle powered a score with five seconds remaining to retake the lead.
The girls really made their move in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter, with two goals from Helena Sandhagen and a breakaway goal from Aurora Sheridan giving the Pack their first significant lead of the game.
La Serna is a talented team and made several attempts to retake the momentum. But Claremont held on and by middle of the fourth quarter, with the Pack up by four, it was all but over.
Waasdorp, whose brother Ian was a star on the boys team in years past, scored five times, followed by Hoyle and senior Makenna Moore, who both had three goals.
Guarding the net for CHS, junior Abby Torry came up with several key saves.
Claremont clearly played well, but still struggled to complete passes to open players near the net. Too often these plays were broken up, resulting in either weak shots or a turnover.
“I think we over threw a couple of passes, but our biggest issue was catching the ball and then putting it in the water and not being ready to catch that pass,” Coach Cheever said. “In the fourth quarter alone we had three or four opportunities right in front of the cage, where if we had just caught the ball, kept it dry and above our head and made that pass, it would have been there.”
Both teams received a lot of penalties, but La Serna really paid the price because Claremont was particularly deft at turning power plays into goals. Coach Cheever said reducing penalties was something the team would continue to work on.
With a 6-1 record, the girls are off to a great start. Their only loss came during the Claremont Girls Varsity Tournament when they were playing without two starters. Still, Coach Cheever predicts it will be a very competitive year.
“I actually think everyone in Division 3 is very competitive, so it will be interesting to see how the top 10, and top 16 fluctuates,” he said.
In the Palomares League, Coach Cheever said that Diamond Bar, Ayala and last year’s champion Bonita are the teams to watch.
“I think we are a top three team in league. It will be interesting to see. Last year we had some opportunities but Bonita outplayed us at the end of both games, so I hope we give them a run this year,” Coach Cheever said.
Claremont varsity girls soccer defeated Kennedy, 5-0, in the championship game of the Katella Tournament on Monday.
On Friday in the championship game of the Claremont Winter Classic, the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars defeated the Wolfpack, 56-52, to claim the first place title, with Claremont in second. Laurel Marchant and Lauren Steffen were named to the all-tournament team.
The Pack got back to their winning ways in the opening round of the San Dimas Tournament with a 41-37 win over Pomona on Monday. Katelyn Maloof continued her red hot shooting, with 12 total points on four three-point shots. The girls added another win on Tuesday in Baldwin Park, with a 48-18 victory over Sierra Vista, advancing their record to 7-1.
Claremont went 5-3, taking fourth place out of nine teams in the Gabrielino tournament on Saturday in San Gabriel. The team, which has been coed for the last few years, had its first league meet at Glendora after press time on Thursday.
Claremont narrowly lost to Schurr High School, 60-57, on Friday in Claremont. The two teams were tied at the half, and even though the Pack’s performance was consistent in the second half, they still fell short.