By Joe Naiman
Although Ramona High School’s girls water polo team finished with a 2-3 record at the San Diego Open tournament which began Jan. 28 and ended Feb. 2, the Bulldogs’ seeding along with wins in two of Ramona’s first three games gave the team a seventh-place finish in the tournament.
The Bulldogs also had a Valley League win against Orange Glen during the week. Ramona ended the tournament with a 16-9 overall season record including a 2-0 league figure.
“That’s really good for us,” said coach Donnie Williams. “The girls have done a great job this year.”
Ramona was seeded among the tournament’s top 16 teams for the first time ever.
“It makes the tournament tougher,” Williams said.
The Bulldogs began tournament play Jan. 28 with two games at the Granite Hills High School pool. The first was a 5-4 loss to Patrick Henry.
“They were a good team. They played strong,” Williams said of the Patriots. “We played them to a close game.”
The teams scored one goal apiece in each of the first three periods. Ramona’s Rachel Hogervorst opened the scoring, although a Patrick Henry goal late in the first period created a 1-1 tie. The Patriots took a 2-1 lead before Holly Smith’s goal tied the game. Holly Fletcher gave Ramona a 3-2 lead before Patrick Henry matched that goal.
In the fourth quarter, Fletcher’s goal gave Ramona a 4-3 lead, but a Patriot’s goal with two minutes left tied the game and a power-play goal with 30 seconds left ended the scoring in Patrick Henry’s favor.
“We got a shot off, but it wasn’t a quality shot,” Williams said of Ramona’s activity after the winning goal.
Granite Hills then took to the water in the Eagles’ own pool to play Ramona. The Eagles scored the game’s first two goals with 44 seconds and 13 seconds left in the first quarter, but Ramona led 3-2 at halftime and 4-2 during the third period.
“The girls were playing solid defense,” Williams said.
Two Granite Hills goals tied the game entering the fourth quarter. Ramona scored the first goal of the fourth period, the Eagles tied the game, and Ramona won the 7-5 game by scoring with 2:00 and 0:24 remaining.
“It was a great game for us. We’ve never beaten Granite Hills before,” Williams said.
Hogervorst had three goals and an assist against the Eagles while Smith had four steals, a goal, and an assist.
Ramona hosted Orange Glen in a Jan. 29 league game and had a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Williams had brought up some junior varsity players for the game; Kaylin Van Tol scored her first varsity goal while Lauren Masters scored her first two varsity goals. The final score was 13-2.
“It wasn’t about winning. It was about trying to get everybody some playing time,” Williams said.
Tournament play resumed Feb. 1 with a game against West Hills at Bishop’s.
“We started off really strong. I thought it was a good game for us,” Williams said.
The third meeting of the season between Ramona and West Hills resulted in the Bulldogs’ third victory over the Wolfpack. Ramona scored all four goals in the first period and had a 5-0 lead before West Hills placed a ball past Ramona goalie Tiffany Larson. The Bulldogs led 6-2 at halftime and 8-4 after three quarters.
The fourth period was scoreless for both teams.
“Basically the fourth quarter we were letting players rest and tried to slow some things down,” Williams said.
Paulina Bernd scored three times for Ramona while Cassie Bernas had two goals. Hogervorst had a goal and four assists. Larson made six saves while adding three steals.
“Good game all around,” said Williams.
The Bulldogs closed out the tournament with two Feb. 2 games at Granite Hills. In the first game Valhalla avenged a 5-4 overtime loss in the season-opening Benson tournament by defeating Ramona by a single goal. Each team scored a goal apiece in the first quarter and in the second period. Ramona scored the third quarter’s only goal and had a 4-2 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
“We just ran out of gas and we were not playing together as a team,” Williams said.
The winning goal in Valhalla’s 5-4 victory was scored with 2 1/2 minutes remaining on a power play. Although the same player scored all three of Valhalla’s fourth-period goals, the Bulldogs held Maddie Stockton scoreless after she had scored seven goals against Fallbrook in the previous day’s game.
“It’s kind of disappointing to give up a two-goal lead and not score anything,” Williams said.
“We were shooting from bad angles,” said the coach. “We need to be shooting higher-percentage shots.”
Ramona’s final tournament game was against Anaheim’s Rosary High School.
“They’re a pretty strong program up there,” Williams said.
Rosary scored the game’s first nine goals before Bernas scored what would be Ramona’s only goal in the 11-1 game.
The seventh-place finish was Ramona’s highest ever in the San Diego Open. “It was a good tournament for us,” said Williams.
The Bulldogs have a non-league game at Mt. Carmel Thursday, Feb. 7, and close out their regular season Friday with a league game at Valley Center. Monday’s CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting will determine Ramona’s post-season activity.