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Santa Margarita overwhelms shorthanded Rosary

FOR OCVARSITY.COM
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High school water polo.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Seventh-ranked Santa Margarita entered its first Trinity League game unsure of what to expect.

The Eagles were facing a Rosary team ranked No. 10 in the county, but the Royals were without Anastacia Gonzalez and Katie Tijerina, their top scorer and best all-round player, respectively, because of injuries. But even shorthanded, the Royals couldn't be taken lightly.

Santa Margarita left nothing to chance Thursday, as the Eagles overwhelmed the Royals, 14-3, in a girls water polo game at Santa Margarita.

Emily Loughlin had a game-high five goals, and Haley Wan and Kacey Avalos each recorded a hat trick for the Eagles (11-1, 1-0).

"We weren't really sure who was going to be out there (for Rosary)," said Eagles coach Kevin Ricks, whose team won its fourth in a row. "We just wanted to come out strong."

The Eagles pounced on the Royals (6-7, 1-1) early, scoring the first five goals of the game. Santa Margarita received goals from four different players as it built a 5-1, first-quarter lead.

Santa Margarita had success pushing the counterattack, and it had the effect of making the Royals second-guess themselves on offense.

"When you get on the counter, the opponent's offense is on their heels," Ricks said of his team's quick-strike mentality. "They're thinking about rotating onto defense."

Loughlin had four goals by halftime, and the Eagles held a 9-2 edge at the break.

One bright spot for the Royals was the play of goalkeeper Jessica Hermosillo. As the Eagles descended to within five meters of the cage, Hermosillo stopped a number of 1-on-1 opportunities. She had nine saves in the contest.

The Royals scored a single goal in the third period and were shut out in the fourth quarter.

Rosary coach Rory Bevins looks forward to the return of Tijerina (shoulder injury) and Gonzalez (head injury).

"If we're at full strength, I think we make it a close game, but we're not," he said.


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