By Joe Naiman
Eight Ramona High School girls water polo players were given all-league recognition by Valley League water polo coaches during their Feb. 25 post-season meeting when all-league teams were selected.
Ramona goalkeeper Tiffany Larson not only made the first team but was also the Valley League’s Player of the Year. Ramona had four players on the first team: Larson, utility player Cassie Bernas, and attackers Rachel Hogervorst and Holly Smith.
Attacker Paulina Bernd and guard Jocelyn Schwegler were second-team selections while honorable mention distinction was bestowed upon attacker/guard Megan Kinnaman and two-meter player Holly Fletcher.
“It goes hand-in-hand with winning the CIF championship, I think,” coach Donnie Williams said of placing eight players on the all-league teams. “These girls all worked hard and they’re really strong players.”
The Bulldogs won not only the CIF Division II championship but also the Valley League championship, which was one reason Ramona was able to capture four of the seven first-team berths.
“Pretty good. You usually struggle to get one,” Williams said.
Ramona did not have a first-team selection in either 2011 or 2012, when the Bulldogs were in the Palomar League. In 2012, three of Ramona’s four all-league players — Bernd, Larson, and Hogervorst — were recognized at the honorable mention level while Hogervorst’s older sister was on the league’s second team. Bri Hogervorst was also on the 2011 second team while Larson and one other player earned honorable mention accolades that year.
Ramona’s previous season in the Valley League was in 2010, when then-senior Taylor Shinnick received a berth on the first team. The 2010 Bulldogs also had one second-team selection and two honorable mention players.
“They would have done well in the Palomar League, too,” Williams said of his 2012-13 squad.
Larson thus made an all-league team in all three of her varsity seasons, culminating with her Valley League Player of the Year award.
“She’s always had a talent and she’s always been strong,” Williams said.
“She plays with everything she’s got and that’s why she’s successful,” said Williams. “She’s probably harder on herself than anyone else is.”
Bernas was Ramona’s leading scorer in 2012-13. “Cassie really stepped up this year,” he said.
Bernas is a junior. Rachel Hogervorst, like Larson, is a senior.
“Everything went through Rachel,” Williams said. “Not only that, she was getting the girls on the field more organized. She really had a leadership role with the field players.”
Hogervorst and Larson were Ramona’s two captains this year.
Smith is also a junior.
“She was effective on the defensive side, got tons of steals, but she was clutch with her shooting, too. She’s got really good shooting technique,” Williams said.
Schwegler and Bernd are both juniors. “Jocelyn and Paulina both worked hard,” said the coach.
Williams noted that while Bernas led the team in scoring, she wasn’t the Bulldogs’ only offensive threat.
“We were very balanced as far as scoring,” Williams said.
Ramona’s victory over Valhalla in the CIF Division II championship match gave the Bulldogs a 22-9 overall season record as well as the CIF title. The Bulldogs had a 4-0 mark in Valley League play.
Kinnaman is also a senior, so five of Ramona’s eight all-league players are expected to return for the 2013-14 season.
“I’m just proud of all the girls, all the work they’ve done,” Williams said.