The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The CSM women’s water polo team ended its season last week in the Coast Conference tournament, winning its final two games of the season.
Unfortunately, they were the wrong two games.
Coach Randy Wright’s goal was to finish in third place in the conference tournament, but that goal was not attainable as CSM fell to Ohlone 8-4 in its opening match. The Bulldogs rebounded to beat De Anza, 13-7, and West Valley, 16-9, to finish in fifth place.
“Tough game with Ohlone,” Wright said. “It just didn’t click.”
The teams were tied at 2 at halftime, but Ohlone scored twice in the third period to take a 4-2 lead into the fourth. The Bulldogs tied the score at 4, before the Renegades reeled off four answered goals for the final margin of victory.
Wright said his team’s defensive efforts were hampered by an injury to All Northern California goalie Daria Kekuewa, who broke her finger in practice last week. She was fine blocking the ball when she could get to it, but it was her ability to position herself for the save that affected her.
With a broken finger, “it’s hard to push as much water,” Wright said. “You can’t get to the position to make the save. It didn’t hurt her to make the save.”
Kekuewa still managed 12 saves against Ohlone. She made 20 saves against De Anza and 15 more against West Valley as Wright adjusted his defense to make sure she got as many save opportunities as possible. Kekuewa now leads the state in blocks.
Gianna Davino, who was named to the All Coast Conference second team, scored 11 goals in the three games. Angelica Medina had nine goals while Kathryn Velichko chipped in with five. Paige Ramstack, Medina and Velichko were named to the All Coast Conference Honorable Mention team.
“It was disappointing (to finish in fifth). That’s not our goal. The setback came at a pivotal time,” Wright said. “It was a good season as a whole. You have to be happy. I took a group of girls who did not have a lot of success in high school and made them successful.
“They definitely improved as players.”