By Rick LeBeauWhen it comes to San Diego County girls’ water polo, Division III is where it’s at. In Saturday night’s title match, Bishop’s and La Jolla weren’t just squaring off for their own division crown. The winner could assert that it was in fact the best team in the county, as both teams had recently beaten Division I winner, Carlsbad. You’d be hard-pressed to find two such competitive programs situated as close to each other as these long-time cross-town rivals.
For years — 15 in a row, to be exact — Bishop’s has staked a place in the CIF Finals, almost always against Coronado. Starting in 2011, the Vikings have risen to displace the Islanders as chief rival to the Knights, and were poised to avenge last year’s loss in their first-ever CIF water polo final.
At the outset, it appeared La Jolla may have some magic going their way, as Sarah Young fired a skip shot passed a surprised Gabby Stone to open the scoring for the Vikings on their first possession. That goal would be all the offense La Jolla would muster in the opening period, as Stone and her defense clamped down, denying opportunities to La Jolla. Just after the 4-minute mark, Hannah Carrillo got the Knights on the board with a hard shot from outside, followed by a goal from Erin Pannek next time down the tank.
The second quarter had as much offense as the first quarter had defense, as the Vikings’ other lefty, Scarlett Hallahan put home a beautiful lob shot to tie the score early in the period. Shortly after, Ariel Arcidiacano put in another lob shot, as the Vikings re-took the lead. Natalie Chun answered for the Knights, but Arcidiacano fired a bullet into the back of the net to give La Jolla 4-3 lead late in the quarter. As Bishop’s often does, they created an opportunity with an ejection in the final minute before half. Using their man-up advantage, Sheila Gerrity buried a shot to tie the score again. Carrillo then got loose with just 18 seconds remaining in the half to give the Knights a lead going into the locker room.
Coach Doug Peabody must have given his team just the right antidote at halftime, as the Knights set a defensive tone that would last until the waning moments of the game, shutting out the Vikings for the entire third quarter, while gradually extending the lead. Carrillo resumed the scoring duties, putting in her third goal of the contest, with an assist from Pannek on the play. Jill Bushman then scored on another man-up situation for the Knights, and then Jesse Webster scored her only goal of the evening with 2:18 to go in the quarter, giving Bishop’s an insurmountable 8-4 lead entering the final stanza.
Both goalies continued to make great plays in the fourth quarter, keeping the margin at four goals until the last 90 seconds, when Carrillo scored the last of her game-high four goals. La Jolla continued to press on offense, though, and got two late goals from Hallahan and Young, respectively, to close the gap to the final margin of 9-6.
Stanford-bound senior goalie Gabby Stone snared 15 saves for the Knights, as did her counterpart Lauren Silver for the Vikings. Hannah Carrillo led all scorers with her four goals for the victorious Knights. Sophomore lefties Sarah Young and Scarlett Hallahan had two goals for the Vikings, as did Ariel Arcidiacano in her final game before heading to Colorado State to play water polo in Ft. Collins. For the Knights, Erin Pannek had a goal and three assists in her last game. Erin will be putting her skills to use for Indiana next season. Both programs have strong contingents of sophomores, so you may want to mark your calendar for a rematch in the finals in 2013.