By Joe Naiman
Although Ramona High School’s girls water polo team lost its final match in the San Diego Open tournament, the Bulldogs won three of the five games in the tournament.
“It was a solid, solid week,” said Coach Donnie Williams. “We opened some eyes. I can’t say enough about the girls playing for us right now.”
The 14-7 loss to Mission Bay to close out San Diego Open play was Ramona’s largest margin of loss since the season-opening Benson Tournament in Orange County, but the Bulldogs’ three regular-season tournaments produced a 9-6 record and Ramona posted its best finish in each.
The tournament results Feb. 2-4 gave Ramona an overall season record of 14-13 even though a pair of Palomar League losses in the two days before the tournament left the Bulldogs with a 1-7 figure in league competition.
“It was a busy week,” Williams said.
The week began Jan. 31 with a 9-7 loss at home against Rancho Bernardo. The Bulldogs held a 5-2 lead after the first period but did not score again until the fourth quarter.
“They made a couple of changes,” Williams said of the Broncos. “We had shots. We didn’t have quality shots.”
The Bulldogs failed to score on each of their seven extra-player opportunities, although Ramona held the Broncos to one power play goal in five such situations.
“All in all I was not unhappy with how they played,” Williams said.
The UCSD pool was the site of the Feb. 1 game between Ramona and Torrey Pines.
“The big pool kind of caught us off guard early,” Williams said.
The Falcons scored the game’s first three goals.
“We made a couple of adjustments and slowed them down a little bit,” Williams said.
Although Torrey Pines led by a 6-1 score at halftime, that was also the score after the third quarter. The Falcons’ 9-3 victory was the Bulldogs’ largest margin of loss against a San Diego Section team prior to the game against Mission Bay, but Ramona became the first Palomar League team this season to hold the Falcons to single digits in a Torrey Pines home game.
“Those girls definitely did play solid defense,” Williams said.
San Diego Open play for Ramona began Feb. 2 with two games at El Cajon Valley High School. Ramona and Bonita Vista were tied at a goal apiece after the first period. The Bulldogs held a 4-3 halftime lead, although the Barons tied the game in the third period.
Ramona ended the third quarter with an 8-4 lead and was on the favorable end of the final 13-8 score. The Bulldogs scored on all five of their extra-player opportunities.
“We were making some good passes and some solid shots,” Williams said.
The game also saw Brianna Campbell score her first varsity goal.
Ramona and Bonita Vista are both Division II teams for CIF playoff purposes, as is La Costa Canyon. Ramona’s second Feb. 2 game was against the Mavericks, and that game was also tied at a goal apiece after one quarter.
Ramona had a 5-2 halftime cushion, but the Mavericks scored all four third-quarter goals and had a 7-5 lead with five minutes left.
“We shut them down,” Williams said.
Bri Hogervorst tied the game with two counterattack goals, the latter going into the net with approximately 1:30 remaining in regulation. A Ramona ejection penalty in the final 20 seconds gave La Costa Canyon a final regulation opportunity, and a shot was taken in the last second. Ramona goalie Tiffany Larson blocked that shot, sending the game into golden-goal overtime.
The goal that ended the game was scored by Ramona’s Holly Fletcher, giving the Bulldogs an 8-7 victory.
“That was a good job,” Williams said.
Valhalla is expected to be the top-seeded Division II team, and Ramona’s Feb. 3 game was against the Norsemen at the Bishop’s pool.
“We shut them down for most of the first quarter,” Williams said.
Two late first-period goals gave the Norsemen a 2-0 lead at the quarter buzzer, and Valhalla was ahead by a 4-1 margin at halftime. Ramona narrowed the deficit to 5-3 by the end of the third period, although in the fourth quarter Valhalla made one penalty shot and scored off a rebound on another penalty shot. The final score was 8-4 in the Norsemen’s favor.
“I think we made a few mistakes, mental mistakes that cost us, but we played solid,” Williams said. “It was not a bad loss.”
Valhalla was the host of Ramona’s two Feb. 4 games. A 6-2 victory over Steele Canyon preceded the loss to Mission Bay. The Bulldogs led 4-1 at halftime and 6-1 after three periods.
“We pretty much shut them down completely,” Williams said. “They could not generate any offense against us.”
Nine of Mission Bay’s goals were put into the net by the same shooter, but the Bulldogs made the game’s first two scores and the first quarter ended with a 2-2 score. Mission Bay had a 7-5 halftime lead and led 11-7 after three periods.
“I think the girls were just a little bit tired,” Williams said.
The regular season ends today, when Ramona hosts Mount Carmel in what will be Senior Night. The CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting will take place Monday.