LOS ALTOS—Sierra Ceballos literally came running to the Christopher girls water polo playoff game at Los Altos on Saturday.
Ceballos came straight from her SATs to play in the game, arriving just minutes before warmups concluded.
She responded with a hat trick for the Cougars, scoring three goals in the fourth quarter, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as Christopher bowed out of the Central Coast Section Division 1 playoffs with a 12-4 loss.
Coach Kelly Coleman said the season really came down to how special the entire team was.
“She was great and she’s a special player, but it’s the whole team that comes together to make the three goals go in,” Coleman said.
The Cougars finished 14-9 overall and 7-5 in Gabilan Division play to finish in third place and score a playoff berth for the first time in team history.
“Last year we were last place in the league and this year we made third,” Coleman said. “The persevered through a lot of stuff and came together as a team, so I’m very proud. They did a good job.”
Los Altos proved to be tough from the opening sprint.
The Eagles went up 5-0 in the first and led 9-0 at the halftime break.
Julia Santos had five goals in the first half and finished with eight for the game.
But the Cougars didn’t let the deficit get to them.
Christopher limited Los Altos to just three goals in the second half, forcing the Eagles into 12 turnovers in the second half.
“Sometimes when you haven’t played a team before, you have to learn what their strong suits are and adapt. It took us a little while to adapt, but then we came back, played some good defense and put some goals on the board, so it was a good turnaround for at least the second half.”
Chloe Kerzenknabe broke up the shutout with a goal to kickoff the third quarter.
On the other end, however, turnovers plagued Christopher, who had 19 for the first half and 10 more in the second.