Ramona High School’s girls water polo team won three of five games at the San Diego Open tournament Jan. 26-31.
The tournament matches, along with two Valley League games during the week and the East County Invite tournament the previous week, gave Ramona 14 games in 13 days. The Bulldogs split those 14 games to finish the San Diego Open tournament with a 13-10 overall season record, including a 4-2 mark in Valley League competition.
“It was a good two weeks,” said Coach Donnie Williams. “They all worked pretty hard.”
Ramona spent part of Jan. 26 at the El Capitan High School swimming pool for two tournament games. The Bulldogs opened the tournament with an 8-4 win over La Costa Canyon.
“We were up on them pretty much the whole game,” Williams said.
In the second Jan. 26 game, the Bulldogs lost 10-3 to Patrick Henry.
“I think we played them tough,” Williams said. “We struggled a little bit scoring.”
The Bulldogs returned to league competition Jan. 27, when they hosted Mount Carmel. Although Ramona scored the first goal, the Sundevils scored with four seconds left in the first period to take a 2-1 lead and built that margin to 8-2 at halftime en route to an 11-5 victory.
After taking Jan. 28 off from competition, although not practice, the Bulldogs traveled to Escondido for a league match against Orange Glen. The game was scoreless after the first period.
“Their goalie was doing a good job,” Williams said. “We had opportunities but just didn’t do it.”
The second period went better for the Bulldog offense, and Ramona led 6-0 at halftime, allowing for a second-half focus on fundamentals rather than scoring.
“We were able to mix a lot of the different things in,” Williams said.
Ramona’s 10-0 victory over the Patriots included six different players scoring goals. Angelina Uriostegui scored her first varsity goal, Kaylee Nelson put three balls into the net, Stephanie Long and Ashley Shields each scored twice, and Desiree Nihart and Taylor Shinnick added goals.
The game was also the first career shutout for goalie Katelyn Bakun, who is a two-meter offensive player when Jessica Patterson is in the nets. Williams rested Patterson, who was nursing an injured shoulder, against the Patriots.
Patterson was back in goal Jan. 29 when the Bulldogs traveled to El Capitan for a game against Mar Vista and made seven saves in Ramona’s 9-7 victory. The Bulldogs led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter, 5-2 at halftime, and 5-4 after three periods.
“It was back and forth, but we always maintained the lead,” Williams said.
Ramona’s two Jan. 30 games were played at Granite Hills. The first of those was an 8-6 loss to Santana.
“We just didn’t score in the second half at all,” Williams said. “They completely shut us down.”
Ramona’s 4-1 first-quarter lead became a 6-3 halftime lead, but the Sultans scored the only third-quarter goal as well as all four goals in the final period.
“We learned from those mistakes, and it actually showed in the next game,” Williams said. “I think we should have won it, but the girls played well, they learned from it.”
That next game was an 8-4 win over Westview. Ramona led 2-1 after the first quarter and 5-4 both at halftime and after three periods. The Bulldogs’ three fourth-quarter goals included two outside shots by Uriostegui.
“I kept telling our girls to shoot cross-cage more often,” Williams said. “She just buried it in the far corner twice.”
Westview is in the Valley League for most sports but has been moved to the Avocado League for girls water polo since San Marcos and Mission Hills are not fielding teams.
“We’re continuing to improve,” Williams said. “I think our girls are ready to see this through here.”