The girls water polo team suffered a season-ending loss to the Gunn Titans this Saturday in the first round of the CCS playoffs. The Bears fell 12-8 in a hard-fought game that was a tale of two different halves.
Coming out of the gate, each team struggled to find offensive success. However, a deep shot from sophomore Scarlett Shenk followed by a quick goal off a restart by sophomore Molly Gray catapulted the Bears’ offense and gave them a 2-0 lead with 3:13 remaining in the first quarter. Junior goalkeeper Lexi Nelson ended the quarter with an impressive cross-pool assist to Shenk, who beat the buzzer to make it 3-0.
The Bears played strong defense throughout the first half, with Shenk and sophomore Sabine Polly applying effective pressure to the exterior of the Titan’s offense. Nelson ended the half with eight saves, including one on a penalty shot in the first quarter and a couple on one-on-one opportunities in the second quarter.
The Bears’ offense continued to have success in the second quarter. Nelson ended the half by scoring on a buzzer-beating lob from the middle of the pool, and the Bears took a comfortable 5-1 lead into the second half.
However, Gunn came out of the break looking like a different team. In under a minute, the Titans scored their second goal, which ignited their offense. Strong individual efforts on the low wings helped Gunn net six goals in the quarter. While critical goals from Polly and senior Abby Ko helped slow the Titans offense, Gunn managed to take the momentum and tie the game 7-7 by the end of the quarter.
Gunn’s offensive success continued into the final quarter. They scored back-to-back goals from the wing to take a two-goal lead with five minutes remaining in the game. While Nelson managed a couple of big saves, the Bears’ offense struggled to find the success they had in the first half. When time expired, M-A had lost 12-8.
While this game was a disappointing end to the season, the team is proud of how they played the whole year. Their final record was 14-7. Reflecting on the season, Ko said, “I am extremely proud of our team. We won the league championship for the first time in 10 years, and I had the opportunity to play with some incredibly talented and committed players that I grew to know and love.” Additionally, the future is bright for the Bears, as they will return most of their players and are very optimistic about the 2024 season.