By Rick LeBeau
Following their first-ever appearance in the CIF water polo finals last season, the La Jolla Vikings girls water polo team is back with high expectations again this season.
The team is fielding a balanced squad of youth and veterans, led by high scorer and tenacious defender Ariel Arcidiacano, who had an excellent junior season, and has already committed to play her college water polo for Colorado State.
Any team thinking they can just shut down Arcidiacano will have to deal with Heidi Moreland, who will be joining Arcidiacano on the left side of the Viking offense. Moreland’s intensity will be a key to La Jolla’s continued success this year.
Head coach Tom Atwell has the luxury of two hard-shooting left-handers this season — 6-foot tall Sarah Young will play center and shoot from the outside as well. Like Young, Scarlet O’Hallahan is also a sophomore lefty, and is always ready to shoot.
Senior Rylee Boland was singled out by Coach Atwell as the leader of the defense. She and her team will be backed by Lauren Silver, who as a freshman got significant playing time last year.
Expect to see sophomores Taylor Bertrand and Michaela Tarantino getting substantial playing time.
The team has already had a strong third-place finish at a tournament in Irvine, which invites teams from Ventura County to San Diego.
Coming off their winter break, they are training hard again and will be playing two games later this week, versus Patrick Henry at home today and Santa Margarita, an Orange County powerhouse, on Friday (in San Juan Capistrano).
It is no surprise that Atwell sees The Bishop’s School as the top team in the county, across all divisions.
As usual, Cathedral Catholic and Coronado will be providing tough competition for that coveted berth in CIF finals.
Now that La Jolla has had their first taste of the finals for water polo, they are hungry to return for a possible rematch against the always tough Bishop’s Knights.