La Jolla High School’s girls varsity water polo close fast against Coronado to advance to CIF finals

By Rick LeBeau

On a chilly Feb. 19, 2013 at Coggan Aquatic Complex, La Jolla High School faced off against Coronado High for the third time this season in girls water polo — this time for the honor of playing The Bishop’s School in the CIF finals on Feb. 23. Each team had won by a single goal in the opponent’s pool, with the Coronado Islanders taking the second game just two weeks earlier on a last second shot in the second overtime period.

The La Jolla Vikings were slow to impose their will on Coronado in the early stages of the game, but they did keep the game close, tying the score quickly after each of the Islander’s first two goals.

In the final minute of the first quarter, ‘Nado took a 3-2 lead, and then extended it to 4-2 early in the second quarter. Then Scarlett Hallahan started the La Jolla comeback, blasting a shot from the right post to beat a startled Coronado goalie. For the rest of the half, the Viking girls continued to clamp down defensively, allowing Taylor Bertrand to tie the game from her customary outside position. Then, just four seconds before intermission, Heide Moreland scored the second of her three goals to give the Vikings a lead they would never relinquish.

The third quarter saw more intense defense from La Jolla, overcoming several exclusion fouls to key players, while managing to turn back the Islander threats. Goalie Lauren Silver did her part to help keep the lid on the goal, making four more saves in the quarter. On the strength of a couple more counter attack goals, La Jolla stretched its lead to 9-6 entering the fourth quarter.

One thing everyone knows about the rivalry between Coronado and La Jolla, though, is that no lead is safe, and neither team ever gives in. All those in attendance expected the game to tighten up in the final stanza.

The fans wearing red and black were collectively holding their breath, hoping the Viking girls could hold off the Islanders for seven more minutes. A minute into the fourth quarter, Lexi Atwell picked up a loose rebound and fired it into the back of the net, and the La Jolla partisans may have been excused for exhaling at that moment.

The Vikings continued to shut down the Islanders’ main scorer, Jaicey Tyler, while adding a few more goals of their own. Coronado was only able to score one late goal, and when Taylor Bertrand scored the last tally of the night with a minute remaining, the Vikings punched their ticket to the CIF finals for the third year in a row. Sarah Young, Hallahan and Moreland each had three goals to lead La Jolla’s offense. Officially, Silver was credited with 12 saves for the game, though she was much busier than that, making several key steals to go with her blocks.

In the Feb. 23 CIF final matchup, the Vikings will meet Bishop’s Knights for the fourth time this season, hoping for a reversal of fortune.

Coach Doug Peabody’s Knights have dispatched everyone in San Diego County this season, topping La Jolla in the final of the San Diego Open just a few weeks ago, as well as during their league games.

On Feb. 19, Bishop’s weren’t really challenged by Cathedral Catholic High, turning in a dominating performance to earn a 15-5 victory. Hannah Carrillo and Jessica Webster both had four goals for the Knights, while Natalie Chun put home five goals to lead all scorers on the night.

Regardless of the outcome of the Feb. 23 CIF Division III Championship Final between La Jolla High and The Bishop’s School, a La Jolla school will once again wear the crown as CIF champ in girls water polo.