San Clemente's Rachel Brownell scores on a first-period penalty shot against Dana Hills goalie Gabby Zimmerman on Tuesday night. The Tritons won the South Coast League game, 14-9.

Youthful San Clemente surges late, beats Dana Hills


High school water polo.

San Clemente's young but talented girls water polo team encountered more stormy waters Tuesday night. But this time, the Tritons navigated their way to a key league victory.

San Clemente erupted for six goals in the fourth period to claim a 14-9 triumph at Dana Hills in a South Coast League match.

Sophomore Cassidy Smithson scored two of the Tritons' four fourth-period counterattack goals as San Clemente's press defense dominated the final seven minutes.

San Clemente (4-6, 1-1), ranked eighth in Division 2, overcame eight first-half ejections against Dana Hills' mobile attack.

Maddy Baba, another sophomore, scored three power-play goals in the first period for Dana Hills (8-7, 0-1), which led, 4-2.

The Dolphins led, 7-6, late in the third before Tritons sophomore Makenna Smith (five goals) scored a power-play goal with 54 seconds left and Brigette Kimbrough netted the go-ahead goal from center with 17 seconds left.

San Clemente snapped a four-game losing streak, which included the fearsome collection of Laguna Beach, Los Alamitos, El Toro and reigning Division 2 champion Santiago of Corona.

The schedule has been challenging for a squad that starts one senior and doesn't yet feature talented freshman Alaina Cousineau.

The Tritons head to the challenging Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions later this week.

"We're having a baptism by fire," said San Clemente coach Logan Powell. "(This) is a huge victory, actually. I was real nervous. ... Dana is a good team."

Added Smith, “We have tough games but we have to learn from them.”

San Clemente learned quickly Tuesday. After experiencing foul trouble in the first half, the Tritons were called for three ejections in the second half.

Baba finished with a career-high eight goals for Dana Hills, which also started just one senior. She highlighted her performance with four goals in the first period and a fourth-period goal with her off hand.

“Our biggest problem was we ran out of gas,” said Dana Hills coach Chad Beeler, whose team recently lost training time because of pool issues. "I definitely thought we were in this game."

Dana Hills welcomed back freshman Maia Borisoff and Molly Wilbur from shoulder injuries.

Smithson finished with three goals for San Clemente. Kimbrough and Rachel Brownell each added two. Goalie Madison Atkins added four saves in the final period for the Tritons.

In the Freeway League:

Sunny Hills 10, La Habra 9: Cecilya Lundy had three goals and six steals as the host Lancers (17-4, 2-0) held on after leading, 10-6.

In the Pacific Coast League:

Beckman 7, Irvine 6: Nikki Daurio scored three goals at Woollett as the Patriots (11-3, 1-0) held on after leading, 7-3.

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