Bulldog girls triumph over Cougars in water polo playoffs

By Joe Naiman

Ramona High girls water polo team advanced to the CIF semifinals after beating Steele Canyon 7-4 in the  CIF Division II quarterfinals Feb. 21.

The win gives Ramona a Feb. 25 semifinal match against No. 1-seed Valhalla High School at 5:45 p.m. at La Jolla High School's Coggan Pool. The winner of that contest will advance to Saturday afternoon’s championship game at Coggan Pool.

“Really proud of these girls.  I think they’ve come together and done good work,” said coach Donnie Williams.

Ramona had played two matches against Steele Canyon earlier in February in the San Diego Open tournament, splitting their win by one-goal final margins. The tournament matches gave the two teams familiarity with each other for the playoffs.

“The more you see people the more they know your tendencies,” Williams said.

Ramona’s fourth seed in the Division II playoffs gave the Bulldogs a first-round bye.

“We did have a full rested squad,” said Williams.

Fifth-seeded Steele Canyon had a Feb. 19 first-round match — a 12-3 victory over Point Loma.

Holly Smith opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the quarterfinal, although 10 seconds later the Cougars tied the score.  Twenty seconds after that Cassie Bernas scored to give Ramona a 2-1 lead with less than two minutes elapsed in the game.

“That put them kind of where we wanted them,” Williams said of regaining the lead so soon after Steele Canyon scored the tying goal.

Later in the period, Smith scored a pair of goals 30 seconds apart.

“She really had a great first quarter,” Williams said.

The first period ended with a 4-1 score.

“We started off strong,” Williams said.

Paulina Bernd scored the second period’s only goal, giving Ramona a 5-1 halftime lead.

“The second quarter was a lot tighter fought,” said Williams.

Steele Canyon’s goalkeeper made nine saves during the first half.

The Cougars had the initial third-period score on a five-meter penalty shot, but Bernd scored on Ramona’s next possession.

“It was nice to be able to match,” Williams said.

Steele Canyon scored the period’s remaining two goals, creating a 6-4 score entering the fourth quarter.  With 4 1/2 minutes remaining, Bernas scored for a 7-4 Ramona advantage.

“I could see our girls were getting a little bit tired,” Williams said.

The coach called a time-out on Ramona’s next possession.

“That gave them enough rest,” he said.

Goalie Morgan Wallace helped the Bulldogs stave off a Cougars power play.

“Morgan came up huge,” said Williams.

The rest of the game was scoreless.

“We got it down under two minutes and just worked our offense, played solid defense,” Williams said.

Wallace had four saves and shared the team lead with four steals. Smith also had four steals. Jocelyn Schwegler had an assist along with her four steals.

“Defense was solid,” Williams said. “I think we did a good job working our halfcourt. We got quality shots.”

Williams noted that the Steele Canyon goalkeeper’s performance was beyond the control of the Ramona players.

“We created the opportunities; that’s all you can ask for,” he said. “We did the work to come out on top.”

   
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