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It’s a four-peat: Bishop’s girls water polo is again CIF Open Division champion

The Bishop’s School Knights girls water polo team claimed its fourth straight Open Division title in dominating the Grossmont Foothillers of El Cajon in the CIF San Diego Section championships at the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex on the La Jolla High School campus.

And the 18-1 victory Feb. 19 happened exactly as Bishop’s coach Doug Peabody planned.

“We have the philosophy that if they can’t score, they can’t win, so keeping the other team scoreless is the game,” he told the La Jolla Light after the Knights’ 16-3 semifinal victory Feb. 15 over Carlsbad. He also promised “stifling and suffocating defense” in the championship match.

Taking his words to heart, the only goal the Knights allowed against the Foothillers was on a penalty shot in the last minute of the third quarter.

Bishop’s, on the other hand, delivered an unrelenting stream of goals.

Starting strong with five goals in the first quarter, the team continued to pick up steam as the night went on. By halftime, the score was 9-0. The Knights picked up five more goals in the third quarter and four in the fourth.

“I’m very happy for them because they wanted ... to bring it home,” Peabody said. “They put in the work to be the best and be the champions.”

Much like in the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Knights focused on sharing the ball, skillfully executing assists while routinely stealing the ball to regain possession.

“We had 10 girls with steals and seven of them had multiple steals,” Peabody said. “And we had 15 assists on 18 goals.”

The scoring in the championship match was led by Alex Bonaguidi, who had five goals; Julia Bonaguidi, Alex’s sister, who had three goals, two assists and two steals; Maggie Johnson, three goals, six assists and three steals; Alex Scafidi, one goal, three assists and five steals; Deming Wyer, who scored the Knights’ first goal and had three steals; and Sofia Holman, three goals and two steals.

The Knights’ unselfish approach comes from “spending a lot of time together,” Peabody said.

“One great thing about this year is they were super competitive this season during practice,” he said. “They were tough on each other to push each other. They fought the whole year, because everyone wants to start. Because of that, everyone on the team earned their way to the varsity starting level.”

But with some of the standout players being seniors, Peabody is now looking to the future of the program.

“Losing Alex [Bonaguidi], Alex [Scafidi], Maggie [Johnson] and Deming [Wyer] is going to be rough,” he said. “We’re losing a lot of depth and talent, so the younger girls are going to have to step up their year-round training. And they will. They work and work.” ◆