Playing in their first CCS playoff match since 2010, the girls water polo team (19-3 overall, 5-2 Peninsula Athletic League) faced off against Burlingame (12-11 overall, 5-2 PAL), ultimately taking them down 8-6 in Saturday’s game.
The Dons faced significant resistance to begin the game, as Burlingame scored twice to take a 2-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. However, led by senior Olivia Tobin, who scored two goals in the second quarter, the Dons were able to take a 4-2 lead into halftime.
“The most important thing that sets me up for my shots is really good passes from my teammates,” Tobin said. “The goal is the easy part, it’s often a really great pass from [junior] Maria Sell, [senior] Vanessa Somoza, or anyone else on the team.”
The Dons managed to stay in the lead for the rest of the game, thanks in part to four interceptions made by Somoza.
“I didn’t score much, but I was a big factor in defense,” Somoza said. “I play a lot of sports, so I know when people are going to pass.”
Additionally, junior goalkeeper Hannah Flynn had 20 blocks throughout the game.
“I think I did pretty well,” she said. “That’s around my average, which is around 15 to 17 shots [defended] a game.”
One of the Dons’ main strengths was the ability to get back on defense quickly.
“The intensity was there the entire time,” Tobin said. “We adjusted on defense, especially so we could shoot down their strongest players”
On the other side of the pool, the Dons delivered on offense.
“We were … just tough on offense,” assistant coach Lauren Padilla said. “I think we fought for goals that in the past, we would’ve just gave them the ball.”
Despite winning the game, the Dons had more kickout penalties, as they had six compared to two by the Panthers.
“We were definitely playing more aggressive,” Tursi said. “[We] just wanted to prevent [Burlingame’s] goals at all costs, and it’s OK if we gave up a few kickouts. We believed in ourselves this game, we knew we could beat them because we’ve done it once, but all the pieces had to come together.”
Up next, the Dons will face Valley Christian (17-11 overall, 3-2 WCAL) in the CCS semifinals.