Prep Water Polo: Cougars fall to Santa Catalina

Christopher goalie Nicole Andresen looks for an open teammate during a game against Gilroy during the 3rd annual Stinky Rose Tournament Sept. 18 at the school. 

GILROY—Several factors were working against the Cougars Monday. They entered the game drained from an intense weekend at the Stinky Rose tournament with several players saying they’re coming down with the flu. Then there were the clocks.
Issues with the game and shot clocks in the second half left Christopher sitting in the water for upwards of five minutes. And that was just one of several times the clocks malfunctioned, tacking on nearly an hour to the game’s length. Nonetheless the Cougars persevered but fell just short of their first win in the upper Gabilan Division, losing 6-4 to Santa Catalina at home.
Shortly after the start of the third quarter, the clocks went out causing both teams to wait tirelessly in the water. Once the issue was resolved, the game changed its tune to one that wasn’t in the Cougars’ favor.
SC turned up the heat on defense, notching two quick steals that led to a goal to tie the game at 4-all. Two minutes later, the visitors scored again for their first lead at 5-4.
“When the clocks got all messed up that caused us to just sit in the pool and we got un-warmed up,” said the Cougars’ Paige Gallardo. “We should’ve won that game and we definitely could have, it was just the timing of the game and everything that happened just wasn’t right.”
Christopher goalie Andresen made a huge save early in the fourth when an SC shot bounced off the crossbar and almost into the net. But SC would find the back of the goal once more with 3:36 remaining for the final.
“I feel like I could’ve done better and I always feel like I could do better,” said Andresen, who had eight saves in the game. “I feel like I’m responsible because these girls are so good and they have so much talent.”
Though the Cougars were disappointed with the day’s events, they weren’t hanging their heads after the match. Instead, the team is using games like this one to grow and improve as they navigate the tough Gabilan Division.
“I think the fact that we’re playing people in the upper division will only make us stronger,” Gallardo said. “It will only make us think faster and play more strategically. I think that we do have a lot of potential on our team. A lot of us are just sophomores and I think that we can go really far if just keep practicing.”
The Cougars started strong with two quick goals from Sierra Ceballos in the first quarter. Ceballos’ first shot was just out of reach of Santa Catalina’s goalie, who barely got her fingertips on the ball before it went in. A minute later, the sophomore Cougar struck again and this time hit the near corner for the score.
Minutes later, Ceballos found Gallardo and fed her a pass, which Gallardo sent sailing over the Santa Catalina goalie’s head to put Christopher ahead 3-0.
The visitors kept the pressure on Christopher, hammering five shots at goalie Nicole Andresen only to be denied each time. They finally slipped one past her with 1:07 left in the quarter to trail 3-1 after one.
SC struck quickly with a goal less 28 seconds into the second quarter. Strong defensive performances on both sides kept the both teams off the board until the 3:15 mark when Gallardo scored off a pass from Malaya Santos. Fifteen seconds later, the visitors answered.
Despite numerous tries on both sides, neither team would score again as Christopher led 4-3 at halftime.
The Cougars (4-5 overall, 0-3 in league) will next take on Salinas at 4 p.m. Thursday at Hartnell College.