Pasadena Poly girls' water polo has high hopes
Pasadena Poly Panthers look for return to CIF final with different outcome.
Junior Caroline Harvey brings a lot of speed to the Pasadena Poly girls' water polo squad. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / November 23, 2012)
In the season past, the only area boys' team to win their final playoff contest was Pasadena Poly, which captured the CIF Southern Section Division V crown, finally breaking through in its third consecutive trip to the final game. Now the girls' program at Poly will look to follow suit, but on a quicker timetable.
“This year our goal is to win another Prep League title, but hopefully we can follow in the footsteps of our boys' team and bring home a CIF title,” Poly Coach Ryan Katsuyama said.
Last season, the Poly girls' team went 20-2 and finished undefeated in league play to win its first Prep title since 2003-04. They then went on to reach the Division VI title game for the first time in school history, but were unable to come away victorious. This year the Panthers, ranked No. 1 in Division VI in the preseason poll, are primed for another run at the championship, hoping a second straight appearance in the final will be the charm for them.
Poly returns a very deep squad led by sophomore Lindsey Kelleher, who last year set a single-season school record with 103 goals and was named the Prep League MVP. Fellow sophomore Allison Woo will also be counted on to fill a variety of roles, taking advantage of her versatility. Also returning as starters are seniors Lauren Lantry, a two-meter defender who used her consistently potent outside shot to score the game-winner in last year's semifinal, and Catherine Finney, who brings speed and the ability to post up on offense.
Katsuyama has a plethora of options for the remaining starting spots. He may go with any combination of skills. That may involve lefties, like senior Olivia Treister, or a secondary center in senior Christina McCarthy, or speed in the form of a player like junior Caroline Harvey, or strong outside shooting from Panthers such as volleyball standout sophomores Alex Clark and DeeDee Logan.
Poly will also look to replace graduated Mimi Moorish in goal and the candidates are senior Alyssa Paul and sophomore Natalia Sanchez-Nigolian, who looks to be the Panthers’ goalkeeper of the future.
“It will be exciting to see how all the pieces come together for us this year,” Katsuyama said.
South Pasadena will also look to defend its league title from last season when it went undefeated in the Rio Hondo League and finished with an overall record of 17-8 while making it to the quarterfinals in the Division III playoffs.
“I think we're the best team in the league and we have the best player in the league so I'm confident,” said South Pasadena Coach Robert Echevarria, fresh off his final season doing double duty by also heading the boys' team.
The player he speaks of is junior Devin Grab, who is the reigning Rio Hondo League MVP as well as an All-Area first-teamer after last year recording 151 goals, 110 assists, and 81 steals.
“She is the real deal,” Echevarria said.
South Pasadena also will be counting on another junior, Liza Echevarria, a two-meter defender and general utility player.
However, the Tigers lost a lot from last year's squad and will have to break in a new goalie and four new starters. They got a jump start on building the new team chemistry when they went on a trip this summer with their coach to visit and play local teams in Hungary.
“This is a rebuilding year, but it doesn't feel like it,” coach Echevarria said. “We're a really good team, we're just not experienced.”
Joining the Tigers in the Rio Hondo League is San Marino, which last year finished three spots behind the champions at 7-11 overall and 3-5 in league, meaning no postseason.
“This is a rebuilding year for us,” San Marino Coach Mark Barr said. “We lost three good seniors and are going to struggle with depth.”
Kelsey Wentz will step in at two-meter defense for the departed Kristin Charlton. The majority of the offensive responsibilities will fall to Umi Nakamura and Kate Scanelle. Barr also expects Elle Shofi and Paulina Tulaphorn to break out this season and help fill the void left by last season's graduates.
Last season Mayfield finished below .500 at 13-15, but went 7-4 in Prep League play. That was good enough for third in league and a postseason run in Division VI that ended in the quarterfinals.