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Across all team sports, the best team is the one where you can’t single out the “best” player. A well-rounded, cohesive group has always been what drives championship caliber teams and that’s exactly what Wilson girls’ water polo has this season. The team celebrated Senior Day on Wednesday at the Belmont with a 21-1 victory over Lakewood to start league play, looking poised to make another championship run.
With national team player Maya O’ Dea missing time due to injury, Wilson has had to adjust in her absence.
“After our game against Mira Costa everyone on our team realized that they had to step up and fill that space in the pool,” fellow national team player Jermonie Billingsley said after the game. “We’ve had to become Maya’s voice because she’s a big player for us.”
Wilson got off to a strong start, playing well on both sides of the ball tallying five steals to go with six goals in the first quarter alone. Billingsley led the team in goals with four, while senior Isabella Reina had a hat trick and two steals. Seniors Annie Heaslet, Shelby Hess, Katherine Sulay and Maya Garcia also scored.
“We’ve started with some hope that we can really make this successful,” Reina said after the game. “Once we started to perform well in our tournaments all our players really bought into the hard work and everything Coach Barry is working towards in February.”
Every single Bruin that rostered and suited up for the game got playing time against the Lancers with 13 different players scoring goals. On the defensive end Zoe Seaboch and Long Beach State commit Charlotte Echlin combined for ten saves, holding Lakewood to just one goal the entire game.
The game showed Wilson’s depth across all grade levels with every senior scoring as well as juniors Birdie Byrne, Sarah Kaven, Claire Slater and Zoe Grover combining for five goals as well as sophomores Vanessa Newton, Emily Cribari, and Petra Aloyian combining for three goals.
Freshmen Olivia Garcia and Katherine O’ Dea also added two goals.
“I think having so many different people score shows our depth, cohesiveness, inclusiveness, and our teamwork.” Billingsley said.
Wilson will host Poly on January 19th and will travel to Millikan for what is shaping up to be the Moore League championship game on January 26th.
It was a tough day for the Lancers, who were coming off an 11-3 win over Cabrillo in their league opener the previous week. Lakewood jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against the Jags, with two goals coming from senior Carah Beaird. Beaird, who would finish with five goals for the game. Junior Brooke Baze also had five goals in the victory and senior goalie Danielle Sgontz recorded a handful of saves.
Lakewood’s next league game will be at Poly on Jan. 26.