By Rick LeBeau
In a convincing display of balanced scoring and tight defense, The Bishop’s School on Saturday captured the CIF girls water polo title again, asserting themselves as the dominant program in the county.
In defeating the game, but over-matched, La Jolla Viking squad — appearing in their first championship match — Bishop’s completed a near perfect run through county teams this season, with just one blemish on their record. That was a loss to Division I champion Vista late in the season.
The Knights opened the game at the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex with their trademark high intensity, in-your-face defense and crisp passing on offense. They had opened up a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter before La Jolla settled down and seemed to find a workable scheme to contain the Knights’ potent offense.
Christina Kirby scored on a rebound put-back late in the quarter to bring the Vikings to within a goal, but the Knights’ Jessie Webster found a hole in the defense with 2 seconds to go in the quarter to put Bishop’s up 3-1.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Bishop’s killing La Jolla’s 6-on-5 power plays with key steals, then getting counter-attack goals before the Vikings were able to regroup on defense. Bishop’s defense again clamped down on La Jolla, allowing just one more goal before half-time.
Again, just seconds before the buzzer for the end of the period, Bishop’s scored two consecutive goals to stretch their lead to 7-2.
With Webster posing as the outside scoring threat and Carryann Olaffson-Loo battling for position nearer the goal, the Knights kept the La Jolla defense off balance throughout the game, allowing for 8 of the 10 Bishop’s goals to come from uncontested looks at the goal.
Webster led all scorers with 4 goals. Olaffson-Loo had perhaps the prettiest goal of the night, a powerful backhand cross-cage shot out of the center position in the third quarter.
For the Vikings, Christina Kirby came up big in her final game as a senior, scoring twice on heads-up rebounds as well as a beautiful tap-in off a pass from Greta Gettelfinger in the fourth quarter.
Bishop’s goalie Gabby Stone kept La Jolla’s shooters frustrated, recording 15 saves for the game.
The win gave Bishop’s their eighth CIF title in the last 14 years (they’ve played in the final in each of those seasons). With their first appearance in the finals, La Jolla showed that their program is maturing — don’t be surprised if these two teams meet in the finals again next season.