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PHOTO, TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Villa Park's Bri Portales, left, tries to handle the press from Yorba Linda on Tuesday. The Spartans won, 10-6, to clinch second in the Crestview and qualify for the Division 1 playoffs.

Villa Park clears final hurdle on way into playoffs

STAFF WRITER

Villa Park’s girls water polo team extended its streak of playoff appearances by navigating a final challenge and plot twist Tuesday.

Attacker Lyndsy Peterson scored five goals, Bri Portales added three and four steals and Morgan Stiewig made eight save as the Spartans defeated host Yorba Linda, 10-6, to claim the second and final automatic playoff berth in the Crestview League.

Villa Park (15-13, 2-1) finished second in the CIF-SS Division 1 league behind Foothill to qualify for the playoffs for the 19th consecutive season, which spans girls water polo’s run as a sanctioned sport in the Southern Section.

“Got to keep it going,” Villa Park coach Zach Larkin said. “(The streak) promotes our program on campus … (and) I’m a competitive person. I don’t want to be the one who loses the streak.”

In the fall, the Spartans boys extended their run of playoff appearances to 41 years.

Villa Park’s girls never trailed, but Yorba Linda (10-17, 1-2) stayed within striking range much of the match despite playing without Princeton-bound Amy Castellano. The senior underwent hernia surgery earlier in the day and rooted for her teammates from the bench.

“(Monday) we spent 2½ hours preparing just for her,” Larkin said of Castellano. “I feel bad about what happened … You want to play their best.”

Villa Park endured its own hurdle before the season when its offensive “quarterback,” Claire Sonne, transferred to Laguna Beach. But new players emerged.

Peterson, a junior attacker with speed, became a 100-goal scorer, Amanda Johnson defended 2 meters and lefty Victoria Vega grew as a center.

“They’ve improved as much as I could hope,” said Larkin, whose team will graduate only two starters.

Maddi Hudak scored four goals for Yorba Linda, and sophomore goalie Cristina Chiappini made 10 saves, including one against a penalty.

“I wanted them to step up and they did,” Yorba Linda coach Jessica Ernst said of her team’s players. “I’m very proud of them.”

In the Trinity League:

No. 1 Orange Lutheran 10, No. 7 Santa Margarita 7: Emma Skelly scored three goals and Kelsey Tyler added two goals and four assists to help the Lancers capture their second consecutive league title.

In the North Hills League:

Esperanza 15, El Modena 1: Sedona Sinclair made 14 saves to help the visiting Aztecs (12-16, 3-0) capture the title for the second year in a row.

In the Garden Grove League:

Garden Grove 10, Los Amigos 7: The host Argonauts captured their 12th league title.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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