By Rick LeBeauIt was the last league game for La Jolla and Cathedral Catholic — the final opportunity to make the case that one of the two Western League rivals deserves the second seed going into CIF girls water polo playoffs.
The last two seasons, the Vikings and Dons have met twice in league, and last year faced off for the chance to play in the finals of CIF vs Bishop’s. They will very likely do the same thing again this season, as they will enter the playoffs as the second and third-seeded teams, respectively. Every game they play is like a three-act play that goes down to the wire, often with an encore.
This time, at La Jolla High School, the Vikings opened the scoring with a goal from outside by senior Ariel Arcidiacano in the first 90 seconds. Then the Viking defense clamped down and shut out the Dons for the entire quarter. With just a three tenths of a second to go in the quarter, Michaela Tarantino got a cross-pass from Arcidiacano and shot near side to score a vital goal and put the Vikings up 2-0.
The second quarter was a complete reversal of the first quarter, with Cathedral scoring the only four goals in the quarter, taking a 4-2 lead into half. They carried that momentum into the third quarter, scoring on their first possession to take what appeared to be an insurmountable three-goal lead. After a scoring drought of almost 10 minutes, Heidi Moreland got La Jolla back in the scoring column, followed by tallies from Scarlett Hallahan and Rylee Boland to get the Vikings even. Lizzy Bilz then scored her second goal of the game to put Cathedral back up, but the Ariel Arcidiacano show was just getting started, as she scored at the buzzer to tie the game entering the fourth quarter. No one was leaving early today.
The Vikings appeared to take command early in the fourth quarter, with another goal each from Hallahan and Arcidiacano. Cathedral wasn’t about to concede anything, though, as they came back to life with a goal by Jeannine Edwards just ten seconds later. Both defenses stiffened until another lob shot by Edwards with 96 seconds to play tied the game again. Each team missed opportunities until the Vikings regained possession with 40 seconds remaining. With time winding down and the crowd gasping with each pass and shot, Arcidiacano got the rebound off a missed shot in front of the cage, and pushed the ball into the goal with only 18 seconds left. Cathedral was unable to mount a threat in the final seconds, and La Jolla came away with the win. Arcidiacano (LJ) and Edwards (CC) led all scorers with four goals each.
Lizzy Bilz had three for Cathedral. The rivalry should continue in CIF playoffs, when the two are scheduled to meet in the semi-finals if things go according to seedings.