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Water polo notes: Santa Ana Valley continues legacy with semifinal run
The conquering spirit of Santa Ana Valley’s girls water polo program continues.
The Falcons, who feature mostly players who learned how to swim during high school, will appear in the CIF-SS semifinals for the first time since 2012 when they play Division 5 top-seeded Pasadena Poly at Ocean View on Wednesday night at 5:30.
Santa Ana Valley produced a similar script a few years ago, capturing consecutive CIF Division 7 titles under longtime coach Fred Lammers, who earned O.C. coach of the year honors.
Lammers has since retired but Valley is back in the semifinals under second-year coach Peter Sophabmixay, a FINA-certified referee and assistant in the Falcons’ athletic department.
In the quarterfinals Saturday, Valley (24-7) rallied from a four-goal deficit in the third period to edge Malibu, 9-8, in overtime.
“We’re very proud,” said Sophabmixay, a graduate of Valley. “We’re going to fight and we’re going to compete against our division and league. … We’ve got six seniors out there and we’ve stuck together."
Senior co-captain Monica Garcia scored three goals against Malibu and leads the Falcons with 78.
Fellow co-captain Cindy Aguayo scored late in the fourth period to force overtime against Malibu and lead the defense with 108 steals.
Senior center Jocelyn Gomez chipped in three goals on Saturday.
Sophabmixay said veteran assistant Erik Terwilliger is another key ingredient. Terwilliger, a former El Toro standout, specializes in goalie coaching and works with promising sophomore Samantha Martinez.
Sophabmixay also is proud of the team’s success in the classroom. The varsity carries an average grade-point average of 3.55.
In the other Division 5 semifinal, Tesoro plays Xavier Prep at Indio at 4 p.m.
CENTER OF THE ACTION
The Woollett Aquatics Center will play host to the semifinals in Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 on Wednesday, starting at 3:30 p.m.
SIMMONS SISTERS LEFT MARK AT ORANGE LUTHERAN
Myna and Mollie Simmons played their final match for Orange Lutheran on Saturday in a 13-10 loss against Dos Pueblos in the Division 1 quarterfinals. The sisters were four-year varsity standouts who helped the Lancers climb to CIF-SS Division 1 championship last season.
Orange Lutheran also won a pair of Trinity League titles with the girls in 2015 and 2016.
"They've meant everything to the program," Orange Lutheran coach Steve Carrera said of the seniors. "They've meant everything to what we've been able to do from the very beginning."