Lady Highlanders lose battle for early league lead
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
With an early crack at league supremacy on the line, the La Habra girls’ water polo team fell short against Troy, tallying its first league loss 12-6, at home Tuesday afternoon.
Both teams came into the contest ranked in Division 4, with Troy taking the No. 3 spot and La Habra sitting at No. 5.
With the game still in striking distance for La Habra in the third quarter, the Lady Warriors (6-6, 3-0) seized momentum with a three-goal swing to pad their lead at 10-4.
“They did more of a front defense for us, but we knew that was coming, so I asked for a lot of driving,” said Courtney Robertson, La Habra head coach. “We did that in the first quarter and a little in the second quarter, but then it kind of disappeared for the second half. It just happened that our shots weren’t coming off, we kept driving it into set.”
Troy’s Marissa Vaccher and set player Minna Mattis caused problems for La Habra by converting four goals each.
Mattis fought hard at the two-meter spot for goals against both Raney Remme and Gabbi Garcia.
“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well, but Minna is just Minna,” Robertson said. “Every team has one girl that you try to go after and I thought we played pretty well against her. They did what I asked, we wanted to drop and we wanted to press the wings far to the outside. Troy did what they had to do to beat us, which was put in outside shots and get in set shots.”
After taking a 3-1 lead into the second quarter, Mattis led the Lady Warriors by scoring all three goals from set as Troy took a 6-2 lead at halftime.
The Lady Warriors also took advantage of La Habra fouls, scoring three goals with a player advantage.
“What killed us was the 6-on-5s,” Robertson said. “They executed when they had the opportunities and we didn’t.”
Garcia scored one of her two goals in the first quarter. She also led the team with three assists and a pair of steals.
At the start of the third quarter, the Lady Highlanders (10-7, 2-1) showed signs of a comeback by being aggressive and scoring two goals within the first two minutes.
Remme got on the board by driving toward the cage and slipping a shot underneath the right arm of Troy goalkeeper Jessica Harris.
Garcia then scored when her shot bounced off Harris’ hands and into the cage to cut the deficit to three goals.
“I think we played aggressively throughout, but it came out more in the second half, I was very pleased with the way they played throughout the game,” Robertson said. “I think I saw some of the girls go faster today than I have ever seen them, so I was really pleased with the effort.”
However, Troy went on a 4-1 run with a pair of goals from Vaccher to take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter.
Defenses took over the majority of the final frame as Troy continued to roll in the Freeway League.
Kayla Peko scored her second of two goals in the fourth quarter off an assists from Garcia in front of the cage.
The Lady Highlanders will attempt to right the ship when they take on city rival Sonora on the road, Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
“I still want to work on getting our drives down and getting the ball side, I think we’re still a little nervous with getting the ball down line,” Robertson said. “Also just our outside shots and our defense against 6-on-5s because we didn’t do so well with that today.”