Loss provides valuable experience for Pasadena Poly girls' water polo
Pasadena Poly Panthers hold their own but lose to Cerritos, 14-12, in CIF playoff tuneup.
Pasadena Poly sophomore Lindsey Kelleher scored three goals for the Panthers. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / February 8, 2013)
However, while most teams would welcome the time off until opening the CIF Southern Section playoffs next week, Panthers Coach Ryan Katsuyama instead wanted to give his team some well-needed competition. That’s why he scheduled Cerritos, a proven program and a top-five-ranked squad in a division above Pasadena Poly.
The Panthers were able to stay right with the Dons for three quarters in Friday’s nonleague contest. However, Cerritos came on in the fourth quarter to earn a 14-12 victory at Pasadena Poly.
“The main reason why we scheduled this game was to have some good competition heading into the playoffs,” said Katsuyama, whose team breezed to a Prep League title with a 12-0 mark. “Our team has not really been tested all season and this was really the first opportunity for us to play a full four quarters against a quality team.”
Cerritos (16-12) — ranked No. 5 in Division V — placed second in the San Gabriel Valley League behind champion Warren. The Dons made the Panthers (21-2) — No. 1 in Division VI — work from the outset. Neither team was able to take more than a two-goal advantage throughout the match.
The loss might be a good thing for Pasadena Poly, according to sophomore Lindsey Kelleher, because it highlights what the team needs to work on if it hopes for a lengthy run in the postseason.
“There are a few things that we have to work on,” Kelleher said. “We need to get better at our shooting from the outside and our defense. We have a little bit of work to do, but those are things that we know that we can improve on.”
The Panthers received three goals each from Kelleher and sophomore Alex Clark, along with two goals apiece from sophomore Allison Woo and senior Catherine Finney.
The Dons jumped out to a 3-1 lead at the 3:16 mark of the first quarter on the strength of two goals by Julia Reyes (six goals). But Pasadena Poly stayed withing striking distance, cutting into the lead and trailing by just one after the first, 5-4.
“It was really a two-goal game the whole way,” Katsuyama said. “And it didn’t help that we were missing our sprinter, Caroline Harvey, one of our starters. So, we were playing a man down, so to speak.
“But being able to stay with a team like Cerritos, which has a lot of speed and a lot of versatility, I was pretty proud of how we performed today.”
Although the Panthers were never able to enjoy a lead in the first half, they did tie the score at 7 with eight seconds left in the half on a goal by Kelleher that was assisted by Lauren Lantry.
Going into the third quarter tied, Pasadena Poly was able to take its only lead of the contest, 9-8, at the 4:02 mark. Clark took a pass from Finney on the right side and bounced a shot that got past goalkeeper Destiny Nguyen. The Panthers couldn’t hold the advantage, though, as Cerritos scored the next two goals.
Kelleher did tally the next goal, however, as the teams ended the third knotted at 10.
The fourth quarter was another tight affair, as the Dons’ Kristin Park found the back of the net with 1:54 remaining to put the visitors up, 14-12. The Panthers then drew an ejection with 1:17 remaining, but couldn’t score, as a shot by Clark missed its mark. Kelleher also missed with a shot in the final seconds.