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PAUL RODRIGUEZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The Register's All-County girls water polo team. From left, Orange Lutheran coach Steve Carrera, Corona del Mar's Heidi Ritner, El Toro's Maddy Damato, Laguna Beach's Bella Baldridge, Laguna Beach's Holly Parker, Orange Lutheran's Kelsey Tyler, Orange Lutheran's Emma Skelly, Foothill's Brooke Maxson, Foothill's Noelle Wijnbelt and Mater Dei's Grace Thawley.

All-County girls water polo: First team

STAFF WRITER

The Register’s All-County girls water polo team.

FIRST TEAM

Kelsey Tyler

Orange Lutheran, utility, Sr.

The Register’s player of the year
(click on the link to read our story about Tyler)

Bella Baldridge

Laguna Beach, attacker, Jr.

The dynamic left-hander led the Breakers in assists (76) and steals (48) and finished second in goals (72). The junior is already the school’s all-time leader in assists with 230. “She was always someone I looked to and had a lot of trust in on offense,” teammate Holly Parker said of Baldridge, an all-tournament pick in Santa Barbara.

Maddy Damato

El Toro, defender, Sr.

The South Coast League co-MVP and 2-meter guard proved her worth by slowing San Clemente center Amber McCutcheon in a pair of critical league victories. The Chargers made it to the CIF-SS Division 2 final for the second consecutive year. “We wouldn’t have won (league) without (her defense),” El Toro coach Justin Johnson said of the Princeton-bound Damato, who added 27 goals.

Brooke Maxson

Foothill, defender, Sr.

The swift UCLA-bound Maxson helped the Knights reach a second straight Division 1 final by leading the team in assists (53) and steals (75). The Crestview League MVP and Santa Barbara all-tournament pick also had 46 goals. “If Brooke got excited or pumped for a game,” teammate Noelle Wijnbelt said, “it would get the rest of the team pumped as well.”

Holly Parker

Laguna Beach, goalie, Sr.

The Orange Coast League MVP became a vocal leader and anchored one of the top defenses with 210 saves. The USC-bound senior finished with 710 career saves and a school-record seven career shutouts. “She cares so much for the team in and out of the pool,” teammate Bella Baldridge said of the all-tournament pick at Santa Barbara and Irvine.

Heidi Ritner

Corona del Mar, goalie, Sr.

The Michigan-bound keeper started the season by recording a career-high 22 saves against then-No. 1 Laguna Beach at the Holiday Cup. The Pacific Coast League MVP finished with 231 saves and was voted the outstanding goalie at the Irvine SoCal tournament. “She’s one of those people (who) steps up to the occasions,” Mater Dei’s Grace Thawley said.

Emma Skelly

Orange Lutheran, attacker, Sr.

The strong-armed Skelly earned first-team All-County honors for the second straight season after leading the Division 1 champion Lancers in scoring with 90 goals. The UCLA signee’s most memorable strike was the winner in double sudden-death overtime to beat Foothill in the final of the Santa Barbara tournament. “At the end of the game, if we’re losing by one or it’s tied, and I could pass it to anyone, I think I would pass it to Emma,” teammate Kelsey Tyler said. “I have such confidence in her being able step up.”

Grace Thawley

Mater Dei, attacker, So.

The versatile left-hander led the Monarchs in goals (75), assists (42) and steals (44). She racked up seven steals in a first-round victory against Newport Harbor in the Division 1 playoffs. “She showed her ability to be a game-changer at multiple positions, which makes her a tremendous player,” Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman said.

Noelle Wijnbelt

Foothill, center, So.

The powerful center scored a team-high 79 goals to help the Knights finish as the Division 1 runner-up for the second consecutive season. She scored nine goals in three games against Division 1 champion Orange Lutheran and netted the sudden-death winner against Dos Pueblos of Goleta in the Santa Barbara tournament. “Our offense revolved around her,” teammate Brooke Maxson said. “She really played (above) her grade.”

ALL-COUNTY GIRLS WATER POLO

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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