Foothill's Val Ayala, front, takes control of the ball as El Toro's Hailey Haggerty defends.

Foothill returns stronger, rolls over El Toro


SANTA ANA – Foothill’s girls water polo team didn’t return from last weekend’s Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions with the biggest prize.

But the runner-up also didn’t depart emotionally empty.

Third-ranked Foothill showed some reinforced resolve Friday in a 12-5 nonleague victory against visiting No. 6 El Toro.

The Knights (15-4), also ranked third in CIF-SS Division 1, overcame an early 2-0 deficit and goalie Tori Rainone to pull away in the second half against the reigning Division 2 champion.

“We had to regroup after that loss, definitely, but I think it made us a stronger team, kind of united us,” Foothill tri-captain Brooke Maxson said a double sudden-death overtime loss to Orange Lutheran in the Santa Barbara final.

“We worked really hard this week. A lot of counterattack and pressing the ball. … (The loss) motivated us to work a lot harder.”

Foothill’s defense and counterattack showed after El Toro (11-6) pushed the Knights to a 4-4 tie at half.

Foothill allowed only one second-half goal and used its defense to score four counterattack goals.

Foothill’s determination showed in a 4-0 run in the final 4:11. Lana Gorlinski and Hannah Bradley scored counterattack goals during the stretch.

Kenzi Snyder made six of her eight saves in the second half, and Maxson added two steals.

“It took us a little while to get going, but we’re definitely really strong and conditioned,” Maxson said. “We really rely on every player.”

Foothill’s scoring reflected the balance. Gorlinski, Grace Pevehouse, sisters Val and Dani Ayala and Noelle Wijnbelt each scored twice.

Rainone had 12 saves.

El Toro trailed, 8-5, after Maddy Parenteau’s strike with 4:11 left in the fourth. The deficit marked progress after a 15-11 victory against Division 2-ranked Dana Hills on Thursday.

“Very happy with the effort,” El Toro coach Justin Johnson said, “especially after I thought we played very poorly (Thursday). … The way we responded, I’m very excited about.”

In the America’s Finest City Invitational:

Rosary 6, Riverside Poly 5 (OT): Bayley Weber scored four goals, including the winner in sudden-death overtime, and Stephanie Gaston had 15 saves to lead the Royals (8-11) in a first-round game in La Jolla.

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