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PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL SCHADE; TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Troy celebrates its sixth straight Freeway League title Thursday night after defeating La Habra, 9-6, at Sonora.

Roundup: Troy finishes on top in Freeway League

OCVARSITY.COM

Troy’s girls water polo team led La Habra by four goals early and by five goals in the second half Thursday night, but still didn’t feel comfortable.

The Warriors knew the teams’ history. They knew the rivalry.

“I knew it was going to tighten up,” Troy coach Jason Wilson said.

La Habra pushed Troy deep into the fourth period of the Freeway League carousel finale, but the Warriors used a late strike at center by Celest Solis to capture their sixth straight league title with a 9-6 victory at Sonora.

Related: O.C. automatic CIF qualifiers

Troy (23-6, 8-0) led, 4-0, in early in the second period and 8-3 in the third before the Highlanders (17-11, 6-2) scored three consecutive goals to pull within, 8-6, on a strike by Natasha Velez with 3:49 left in the fourth. 

“My team has great heart,” La Habra coach Courtney Robertson said.

Solis took an entry pass from Karly Feenstra and delivered the knockout strike with 2:38 left in the fourth, sending Wilson soaring off the pool deck in celebration.

Later, the Warriors looked plenty comfortable in their victory plunge with Wilson.

“I love looking back at him,” Solis said of Wilson’s reaction. “It was epic.”

So was the teams’ rivalry. Troy defeated La Habra, 15-12, in overtime earlier this month. Highlanders goalie Maddi Garcia tied the school record with 22 saves in the thriller.

Troy’s press defense starred Thursday. La Habra didn’t score until Rachel Henson’s perimeter strike about 1½ minutes into the second period. Goalie Makayla Parks racked up six steals, and Ava Mattis added five and Shelby Maldonado four.

Solis scored three goals while Claire Schade and Alex Dowell added two apiece.

Dowell helped sparked the Warriors' fast start by stealing the sprint won by La Habra and drawing an exclusion that led to a power-play strike by Mattis 11 seconds into the first period. Wilson said Dowell, a senior, played her best match of the season.

The Warriors also claimed their fifth straight undefeated league title, extended their Freeway winning streak to 50 games and likely wrapped up the No. 3 seed for the Division 3 playoffs.

"It's been really about beating La Habra this whole time," Solis said. "Now we're going to go into CIF and work our butts off again."

Henson and Velez each scored twice for La Habra.

In the third-place game:

Sunny Hills 10, Fullerton 9: Paulina Luna scored the winner on a lob shot with 1:54 left at Sonora for the Lancers (20-8, 4-3), headed to CIF for the 18th consecutive season. Sophomore Kaya Ortega scored seven goals for the Indians.

In the Empire League:

Tustin 9, Kennedy 7: Kalypso Fish made five saves in the fourth and Dana Twisk scored three counterattack goals as the visiting Tillers held on to secure second place behind Cypress.

Tustin led, 9-4, going into the fourth and withstood a three-goal surge by Kennedy. The Fighting Irish had a counterattack shot hit off the post with two minutes left that would have cut the Tillers lead to 9-8.

Hannah Binder and Madilyn Reagan added two goals apiece for Tustin.

"We were pretty strong in the beginning but I noticed that toward the end, we did let off a little bit, which we really need to work on (for CIF)," Binder said.

Freshman Katherine Garcia scored three goals for Kennedy, which sent a player to offense early throughout the fourth period.

In the Golden West League:

Ocean View 11, Segerstrom 3: Shannon Graham and Elena Isogawa each scored three goals as the host Seahawks (23-4) won the carousel finale.

In the Sea View League:

Trabuco Hills 8, Capistrano Valley 2: Christina Doherty scored four goals as the visiting Mustangs (18-11, 5-4) beat the Cougars (4-5 in league) for second place. San Juan Hills knocked out Laguna Hills, 10-9,


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