By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
Just three goals separated the Garden Grove High School girl’s water polo team from winning their first ever CIF title. Instead the Division VII Championship was won by Santa Ana Valley High School by an 11-8 score on Saturday, Feb. 26 at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center.
Despite jumping out to an early 3-1 lead in the first quarter of the game, the Argonauts squandered the advantage and allowed the Santa Ana Valley Falcons to take the lead at 6-5 with 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Argos never saw the lead again.
Garden Grove struggled to get their typically productive offense moving in the right direction when the Falcons keyed on stopping the dangerous senior Kaitlyn Frain. After scoring a combined 15 goals in the two games prior to lead the Argonauts to the final, Frain was held to just two goals in the championship.
“We just didn’t have the same rhythm that we usually have,” said Garden Grove head coach Eric Henninger.
With a lack of offensive output from Frain, the rest of the Argos struggled to pick up the slack. Senior Zoe Agapinan led Garden Grove in scoring with three goals while junior Vivianne Mai added two goals early in the game. Senior captain Elizabeth Keenan contributed one goal to the Argonaut total.
“It’s one thing to come in and play your best and take a loss. We all know that we played pretty poorly, so that’s the thing that hurts the most,” commented Henninger.
The victory represented the first CIF championship win for any girl’s sport in Santa Ana Valley High School’s history. A balanced attack that included scores from six different players and 12 saves from sophomore goalie Gabby Chavez helped the Falcons to the win.
Over three months prior to the championship final, these two teams faced off in a match that ended in Garden Grove’s favor with a 9-5 score. When asked what the difference between the two games was for the Falcons, Henninger cited their preparation.
He added, “I think they found out in that first week that if they want to get this done they’re going to need to bring their level up a little bit and they did.”
For the Argonauts, the loss represents their second time to the CIF finals in girl’s water polo and their second finish as runners up. The 2004 Argonauts made it to the championship in the first year of the school’s girl’s water polo program.
The championship game was the last game for seniors Andrea Del Castillo, Zoe Agapinan, Kaitlyn Frain and Elizabeth Keenan. Despite these losses, Henninger remains optomistic for his team in the 2011-2012 season.
“It could be a good year next year… We’re gonna carry a lot of speed into next year. It makes you dangerous.”