By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
For the second consecutive year the Santa Ana Valley Falcons girl’s water polo team cost a Garden Grove League team a CIF championship title. This time they claimed the Division VII Championship by just one goal as they defeated the Los Amigos Lobos by an 8-7 score on Saturday, Feb. 25 at William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center.
“We should not be sad about this, this is a great day,” said Los Amigos third-year head coach Manny Lepe. “This is a glorious day. It’s something that this school has never done, especially in girls’ water polo.”
Neither team earned anything more than a one goal lead throughout the game as the lead changed hands several times. In the first quarter, the Garden Grove League’s leading scorer, Brianna Salas, led the Lobos to a 2-1 lead with two early goals, but was held scoreless in the final three quarters as the Falcons keyed on stopping her.
The Lobos, though, could not match the defensive effort of Santa Ana Valley to shut down Jazmin Hinojoza who finished with five goals for the Falcons, including a goal with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter to give SAVHS a one-goal lead.
With 1:12 remaining in the quarter, the Lobos were given a six-on-five advantage after Minh Le of the Falcons was ruled for an exclusion penalty, but Los Amigos sophomore Sophia Cortes missed on an opportunity to tie the game with just under a minute remaining.
With 33 seconds remaining, Lepe called timeout and drew up one final play, but the Santa Ana Valley defense held and forced a deep shot from Leticia Zacarias as time expired that fell harmlessly into the goalie’s arms.
“It’s sports, somebody has to lose and today unfortunately we’re the ones losing on the scoreboard, but I think we’re true winners within ourselves,” Lepe said. “This is an amazing run we had and I would’ve never thought we’d be here.”
The CIF title is the second in a row for SAV after they defeated Garden Grove 11-8 in the 2011 CIF Championships.
The Lobos finished a perfect 4-0 in league play and 13-7 overall and will have to look to replace seniors such as Salas next year.
“I think we can make an impact again next year,” Lepe said. “I’m not going to say the same kind of run, but I think we can make an impact.”