MC Girls’ water polo had a tough season filled with grueling morning practices, tight games, and a challenging place in the Palomar League. Against all opposition, the team fought their way to the Division III CIF finals, the first time in MC Girls’ water polo history. The road to CIFs also proved to be a difficult one, as during the regular season, MC lost to San Pasqual by 7 points, but later beat them 11-4 in the semifinals. Along with finding success over San Marcos and La Costa Canyon, MC ended the season with a second place finish in the finals against Point Loma.
For MC senior Lauren Keating, this was the last water polo game she will ever play as a Sundevil, and in reflecting on her team’s performance, was overall proud of how she ended her performance in the pool.
“We all thought we could play hard as long as our mindset was in it to win it,” Keating said. “To start out we played loud music in the locker room and just danced to loosen up and get out all the jitters. It was a lot of fun, the whole team played and worked hard, players who weren’t in the pool were making cheers and started to get the crowd to cheer with them, it was an exciting game.”
Since it was MC Girls’ water polo’s first ever CIF finals, Keating knew that although MC lost, placing second was still a satisfactory conclusion to a memorable season.
“I think as the season went on we only got better. We were put in tournaments against Division 1 and Open Division teams,” Keating said. “We always had good chemistry in and out of the pool and going through rough losses together only made us grow closer. I think we performed well, although we lost we never gave up during the game.”
Freshman Megan Takeuchi was selected to join this year’s team of veterans. As a newcomer to the sport, she felt she had a lot of work ahead to reach the level of her teammates.
“I was brand new to the program, and everyone else had played in past years together,” Takeuchi said. “It kind of felt like I had to prove both to them and myself that even though I was the youngest, I could still contribute to the team and earn my spot to play.”
During the final game of her very first season, Takeuchi decided to sacrifice her own individual improvement and solely focus on aiding her team.
“I tried to play in a way that could give my team the best chance at doing well, such as passing instead of shooting if a teammate had a better angle or shot than I did,” Takeuchi said. “I really put it all out there for my team.”
Senior Makenna Rodriguez was the starting goalie for MC polo, so she was able to get an accurate perspective on her team’s position and overall improvement.
“I’ve learned how to perform as a team and play for the person next to you rather than yourself. Whether that means passing the ball when you can take a shot or watching your teammates back,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve also learned how to work with a group of very different girls and get them to work for one goal.”
For Rodriguez, the CIF finals was one of the highlights of her high school career. Like any other athlete during an important match, game, or meet, Rodriguez had a different kind of energy running through her during her last game.
“When they called out all the players names before the game, that was a feeling like no other,” Rodriguez said. “And as for blocking a goal. It’s the best feeling in the world. [It’s] definitely one of the most satisfying things, especially if it was a really good shot. It’s amazing knowing that the goal you just blocked may cause your team to win the game.”
At the end of this season, MC Girls’ water polo finished with 18 wins and 4 seniors that have left their mark on the program for their athletic ability and dedication to the sport.