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LJ Water Polo Club wins Cal State Games

Summer is often prime time for local club sports teams, and the members of the La Jolla Water Polo Club girls under-18 team are taking full advantage.

The team recently won its division at the California State Games, beating out a field of nine other teams in a tournament held July 17-19 in Coronado. Then they beat an Orange County-based club called the Jackrabbits, 5-2, in the July 19 championship game at Joan Kroc Pool.

The championship was the team’s second straight at the Cal State Games. Despite being the defending champion entering the tournament and having all the other teams looking to knock it off, the club performed well.

“After winning the Cal State Games last year, the pressure was on us this year to win again,” coach Dante Laghetto said. “But our girls were not living up to everyone else’s expectations - instead they were just doing their job the best way they could. The result was winning again without choking under pressure.”

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During the tournament, the girls won four games in pool play on the 17th and 18th, and then won their semifinal game late on the 18th, sending them to the July 19 championship game.

Members of the team, most of them La Jolla High School students, included Rylee Boland, Darby Broekema, Aiofe Collins, Victoria Frager, Greta Gettelfinger, Lindsey Knight, Tori Loomis, Sidney McLeish, Meagan Moreland, Emilie Myers, Jenna Ross, Kelsey Ryan, Kate Woods and Lauren Heckerdorn.

Loomis was named Athlete of the Year for the tournament.

Most of the team that competed in the Cal State Games was actually comprised of members of the club’s under-16 team, Laghetto said. Laghetto felt that the under-18 team wouldn’t be challenged enough and that the under-16 team could face a good test playing against older players.

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His confidence in the younger group paid off.

“We were happy to win the tournament,” Laghetto said. “The girls stepped up and answered the pressure - that’s when they play their best.”

The Cal State Games tournament was just one stop during a busy summer for the club. The girls’ under-16 team will travel to San Jose for the USA Water Polo S&R Sport National Junior Olympics, July 30-Aug. 2, and the under-18 team is scheduled for a flight to Hawaii to play in an invitational tournament Aug. 3-10.