Ramona High girls water polo wins Valley League championship

Bulldog Ashlee Holabird prepares to drive the ball during a water polo match earlier this season. Sentinel file photo
Bulldog Ashlee Holabird prepares to drive the ball during a water polo match earlier this season. Sentinel file photo

By Joe Naiman

For the second consecutive year, Ramona High School’s girls water polo team went undefeated in Valley League play and won the league championship.

“League champion, that’s huge,” said coach Donnie Williams.

A 13-6 victory Feb. 12 at Del Norte High School concluded the Bulldogs’ league season.

“It was a good win,” Williams said. “Started off pretty strong.”

The Bulldogs opened the scoring. The Nighthawks tied the game with a goal, but Ramona had the next five scores to take the lead for the remainder of the game. A Del Norte goal created a 6-2 score at the end of the first quarter, and the Bulldogs increased their lead to 10-3 by halftime.

Ramona goalkeeper Morgan Wallace had four steals in the first half but only made one save.

“They really didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities,” Williams said of Del Norte.

Wallace ended the game with 10 saves and five steals.

“She’s really stepping up, being aggressive out of the cage,” Williams said.

Jocelyn Schwegler and Cassie Bernas had four steals apiece. Daniella Talento had two steals. Kaylin vanTol, Paulina Bernd, and Holly Smith each added one steal.

Josie Ward led the Bulldogs with three goals against Del Norte. Bernas, Schwegler, Bernd, and Talento each placed two shots into the net. Tatiana Lloyd-Dotta and Serena Lopez each scored once.

“Going undefeated in league was good,” said Williams.

The Bulldogs closed out their regular season with two non-league contests. An 8-7 loss Feb. 13 at Rancho Bernardo carried playoff seeding implications for the two Division II teams, although the loss didn’t alter Williams’ expectation that Ramona will receive a first-round bye and open playoff competition with Friday night’s quarterfinals at La Jolla High School’s Coggan Pool.

Rancho Bernardo took a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 90 seconds.

“We were in a hole right off the bat,” Williams said.

Ramona’s first goal was followed by a third Broncos goal. All four first-quarter scores were within the game’s first four minutes.

“There was a lot of scoring going on early,” said Williams.

The Bulldogs scored the second quarter’s first goal, although a successful Broncos shot restored the two-goal lead.

“The girls kept digging.  We kept working at it,” Williams said.

The deficit was narrowed to 4-3 at the end of the first half by vanTol. Bernd scored in the third quarter to create a 4-4 tie.

“We fell asleep right after that,” their coach said.

Rancho Bernardo took a 5-4 lead 20 seconds after Bernd’s goal, closed third-period scoring with a power play goal, and took a 7-4 lead with a goal midway in the fourth quarter. Ramona had the next two scores to narrow the margin to 7-6, but a lob shot from 12 meters away gave the Broncos an 8-6 advantage. Smith scored the game’s final goal, but the Bulldogs were unable to erase their final deficit.

“Losing to RB was tough,” said Williams.

Ramona missed 28 shots in the game against the Broncos.

“There was no shortage of opportunities,” he said.

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