Water Polo Wilson

Girls Water Polo: Wilson Tops Harvard-Westlake to Stay Unbeaten

The562’s coverage of water polo & swimming is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

Extending their season win streak to three, the Wilson girls water polo team secured a 9-7 victory over Harvard Westlake on Wednesday night at CSULB.

The first quarter saw the Bruins jump out to an early 3-0 lead with goals from seniors Maya O’Dea and Hannah Szeszulski and junior Jermonie Billingsly. O’Dea would finish the night with four goals and three assists and Billingsly would finish with two goals. Senior goalkeeper Charlotte Echlin would have a plethora of saves early, tallying 12 stops on the night, including a one on nobody opportunity for the Wolverines. After the game, O’Dea attributed her team’s performance to the group’s offseason training.

“The team has really put the work in together throughout this past spring, summer. and fall, staying together during club season and having a great Junior Olympics run.” O’Dea said. “Staying together has really helped us learn and build a rhythm to work with each other even stronger.”

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In the second quarter, Harvard Westlake would get on the board with a goal from Amber Nowaczek but a response from freshman Reece Haga put the Bruins up three again. The Bruins and Wolverines would trade goals through the remainder of the second period and would go into halftime 5-3 Wilson.

“We’ve got some young kids who have stepped in and given us some good minutes, like Reece Haga coming in as a freshman scoring a big goal for us in the first half,” head coach Barry O'Dea said. “I was talking to the freshmen and I said that you don't get to be freshmen anymore, you’re on varsity.”

The Bruins led for the entire match, but were never able to extend their lead past three. As a result, coming out of the half, Harvard Westlake would rip off three unanswered goals, bringing them within 1 heading into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, the Bruins would add two final goals from O'Dea and Billingsly and tighten their defense down the stretch, only allowing one goal to the Wolverines. After the game, Coach O'Dea stressed the importance of strong defense, especially when down a player.

“One of the things we’ve talked about since we got here is that championships are won on both 6-on-5 and 5-on-6,” Coach O'Dea said. “This game is centered around that. We held them to under 50 percent and I'm really happy about that.”

Even with the team’s strong performances so far in the season, Coach O'Dea believes the best is yet to come for his group.

“We got them when we needed them, we got the goals when we needed, and I'm happy. It’s a win. We’re 3-0 and we haven’t played our best yet and that’s awesome,” he said. “If we can come out here and compete with some of the best players and some of the best teams then we’re going to be pretty happy with that. We’re one of the top eight teams in Division 1 so I’m hoping we can maintain that and see how far we can go.”

The Bruins will travel to Los Alamitos for their next match on Friday at 5 p.m.

PHOTOS: Wilson vs. Harvard-Westlake, Girls’ Water Polo
Wiley Haga
Wiley Haga is a senior at Wilson High School, with a strong interest in sports journalism. His primary focus is on sportswriting, but also has interest in videography, social media, and more.