La Jolla High School Vikings girls water polo team defeats Knights, 7-6

In a back-and-forth battle that ended in double overtime, this year’s crosstown girls water polo game went to the La Jolla High School Vikings, 7-6, when they took on The Bishop’s School Knights at Coggan Pool Jan. 16.

The Vikings and the Knights, under the leadership of Amy Jennings and Doug Peabody respectively, showed stamina and resilience.

The first quarter opened with the teams exchanging goals in almost automatic fashion. For every Knight goal, the Vikings retaliated, and the first quarter ended 2-2.

With the start of the second quarter, offense got more ambitious, but defense got tighter, and a handful of would-be shots were missed. But the back-and-forth mentality continued, with the first half ending 3-3.

It wasn’t until the second half that the Vikings took the only two-point lead of the game to make it 5-3. But because that was just how the game was going, the Knights caught up and tied the game in the fourth quarter, 6-6.

Both coaches called time-outs in the fourth quarter, hoping for an 11th-hour strategy miracle, but none prevailed, and the teams went into overtime.

The Vikings scored an overtime goal, but a tussle between a Knight and Viking that went largely unnoticed — except by the refs — gave the Knights possession of the ball, and the last chance to tie up the game once again. But with a missed shot and little time left on the clock, the Vikings narrowly clinched a victory.

Crediting the win to a little bit of luck and a lot of awareness, Vikings coach Jennings said: “The emphasis I’m putting on my team is finding ways to evaluate, scan and anticipate things going on around them as opposed to locking in on one person or reacting.”

She said goalie MC Reldon did “an amazing job” and that “there were a lot of open shots on her that she blocked; she saved our butts.” With fellow goalie Shauna Frenke, Jennings said: “We have the top two goalies in San Diego, even though they are both sophomores.”

An admittedly young team, the Vikings varsity roster is largely sophomores and juniors, with the occasional senior and freshman. “This year’s team is coachable, they are sponges. Being so young, they appreciate being on varsity. These girls are eager to learn. They are great group of girls that love this game. They are here to do the work.”

And though “everyone is stepping up,” Jennings said standouts include MC, junior Jensine Bugelli (No. 7), senior Leslie Rendon (No. 4), junior Katy Koenig (No. 5) and sophomore Jessica Newell (No. 14).

For Bishop’s, the tight loss mirrors the tight season the Knights have been having thus far, which as of press deadline stands at 8-6. Of the season thus far, Coach Peabody said: “We graduated five seniors last year, so this is a new team — a lot of young players getting a great opportunity. And they are fighters, this game showed that. They fought back and made it to overtime.”

Is there a chance for redemption on the horizon? The Vikings and the Knights girls water polo teams square off once again 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Coggan Pool on the La Jolla High campus, 750 Nautilus St.

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