Hannah Wrathall | La Habra Journal

Posted on 23 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

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La Habra’s Gabbi Garcia fires a shot over Sonora goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stys during the third quarter of La Habra’s 15-1 win, Thursday afternoon at home. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Two days after failing on a chance to take the league lead, the La Habra girls’ water polo team attacked early and left no question of its intentions in a 15-1 romp over city rival Sonora, Thursday afternoon at La Habra High.

Playing without set player Raney Remme, the Lady Highlanders still jumped early, scoring six goals within the first five minutes of the game.

Gabbi Garcia led the Lady Highlanders (11-7, 3-1) with five goals and Julia Rivera added three goals.

All-in-all, seven different La Habra players found the back of the cage.

“I always love when they spread the ball around, it gets the goalie off,” said Courtney Robertson, La Habra head coach. “I was very impressed, we practiced it yesterday, looking cross-cage, moving it around, if you’re open for a shot, check first to see if someone else is more open. I was really pleased.”

The Lady Highlanders consistently attacked by driving inside and making the extra pass to find an opening near the two-meter mark.

Rivera assisted Garcia twice in the third quarter by hitting the senior captain in stride as she was driving toward the cage. Garcia’s second goal of the quarter put La Habra up 10-1.

“I think that they wanted to prove that they could be just as good as Troy, since they had that success against Sonora,” Robertson said. “I think the strong start helped to build that confidence and believe that they can go against Troy and be competitive again.”

While the Lady Highlanders were using their aggressive offense to set up open shots, the Lady Raiders (4-10, 0-4) often tried a perimeter shot before the offense could really get set up.

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Sonora’s Jillian Jacobsen takes a shot on goal in the fourth quarter of a 15-1 loss at La Habra, Thursday afternoon.

Emilie Morris put in Sonora’s lone goal at 2:09 remaining in the second quarter with an accurate perimeter shot that hit the top right corner of the cage.

“We didn’t know what type of defense they would run, so when we saw them dropping back, we wanted the girls to move in and take shots, but the problem was they wouldn’t move in together, so we would have one way outside and they would pressure,” said Lauren Benson, Sonora head coach. “In the fourth period, we wanted to drive, but it didn’t work out.”

However, when Sonora attempted to put the ball inside, Garcia’s set defense was there to prevent solid shots. Sonora’s Hannah Wrathall found space to shoot inside at times, but La Habra’s Maddi Garcia was there to make stops.

Aside from Morris’ goal, Maddi Garcia handled the Lady Raiders’ perimeter shots without any problems.

Benson said that the team’s lack of communication on defense will be a point of emphasis as the team prepares for Sunny Hills, Tuesday afternoon at Sunny Hills High.

“We need to talk more to each other and get back to help,” Benson said. “We’re looking to improve defensively, moving inside the player rather than on top. Offensively, we want to work on our knowledge of what to do with the ball in different situations.”

For the Lady Highlanders, the win was a nice bounce-back from Tuesday’s loss against Troy. La Habra faces off against Buena Park at home, Tuesday afternoon.

“Buena Park is like a wild card game for us, we always play a little under against Buena Park, so I get a little nervous,” Robertson said. “Hopefully we come out strong and keep pushing. If we can run the score up a bit, get a good cushion, the girls will feel better about themselves and it’ll take a little stress away. It would be nice to finish 4-1 after one round.”

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