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PAUL RODRIGUEZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange Lutheran's Kelsey Tyler is the Register's girls water polo player of the year.

Girls water polo player of the year: Kelsey Tyler, Orange Lutheran

STAFF WRITER

Kelsey Tyler said her directive from Orange Lutheran girls water polo coach Steve Carrera was clear.

He wanted her offensive production this season to match her stellar defense.

“You have your defense,” Carrera told Tyler. “I need you to score.”

The senior met the challenge, and then some.

Tyler not only scored more, she led Orange County in assists and became one of the most feared drivers in CIF-SS Division 1.

She accomplished it while guarding 2-meters and helping the Lancers capture their first CIF-SS Division 1 title.

For her multifaceted efforts, Tyler is the Register’s girls water polo player of the year.

“She’s no joke,” teammate Emma Skelly said of Tyler, who was selected Trinity League MVP and MVP of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

“Kelsey creates so much for our team.”

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ALL-COUNTY GIRLS WATER POLO

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The USC signee scored 77 goals – 25 more than her junior season – and dished out a county-leading 94 assists.

Tyler also added 62 steals and drew numerous exclusions on drives from the perimeter toward the opponent’s goal.

In a 6-3 victory against Foothill in the Division 1 final, she drew four exclusions and a penalty shot, prompting announcer Dave Carlson to comment, “Drawing the penalty shot is, guess who again … Kelsey Tyler.”

Tyler’s contributions were so diverse, she was praised for different parts of her game.

Carrera called her the best center defender in the county.

“I felt like we had the best 2-meter defender in the game,” he said.

The UCLA-bound Skelly was impressed by Tyler’s passing.

“Kelsey is so smart,” she said. “Any play that we do, she makes it happen. … She is such an amazing player … and sees things I can not even comprehend are about to happen.”

Tyler said her growth as a well-rounded player coincided with similar progress by her teammates.

“Last year I struggled with having a balance of offense and defense,” she said.

“I think everybody balanced their play this year. (Carrera) wanted each person to be able to post-up, and be able to guard and be able shoot from the outside.

“Each one of us worked on the things that we don’t normally do, to make (us) an all-around team.”

With Kelsey Tyler leading the way, the Lancers became a CIF-SS championship team for the first time.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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