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November 05, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 05, 2004

Lancer water polo takes down league rival Lancer water polo takes down league rival (November 05, 2004)

Teams could meet again in playoffs

By Scott Campbell

The St. Francis girls water polo team won its 13th straight match by defeating host Mitty 7-2 on Oct. 28. With the start of league playoffs this week, the four-time defending Central Coast Section champion Lancers will be the team everyone else is gunning for.

Both teams began the match playing superb defense. In a scoreless first quarter, Mitty limited St. Francis to one shot, while taking just three itself.

After scoring two goals early in the second quarter, Mitty (20-7 overall, 4-2 league) ensured that the match would be more than just a postseason tune-up for the Lancers (20-5 overall, 5-1 league).

Trailing 2-0, the St. Francis offense was sparked by junior Lizzy Rouleau. With assists from Natalie Chrisman and Amanda Tipton, Rouleau scored twice, directing the ball into the right side of the Mitty net both times.

"Lizzy is setting the tone offensively," said St. Francis Coach Brendon Reutebuch. "She's just such a competitor, such a great offensive force."

Utility player Natalie O'Farriell gave St. Francis the halftime lead at 3-2 with a deep outside shot from the right side, just over Mitty goalkeeper Kim Needham's fingertips.

As has been the case with the recent championship Lancer teams, the backbone of this team is its defense. Mary Hildebrand, a three-year starter at goalkeeper, continued her stellar season by denying seven of the nine shots on goal the Monarchs attempted.

St. Francis succeeded in its objective of containing Julie Hyrne. The Mitty star managed just four shots and one goal in the face of the suffocating coverage led by Tipton.

"Our key was our defense," said O'Farriell. "We were able to counterout (transition from defense to offense) and score goals."

Displaying patience and extraordinary ball movement, five Lancers recorded either an assist or a goal in the decisive third quarter. St. Francis pummeled the Mitty net with nine shots, connecting on three, to take a 6-2 lead.

The sixth goal came when Rouleau found herself double-teamed with the ball in front of the Mitty net. Rouleau's toss to O'Farriell shifted the Mitty defense to the right side. O'Farriell whipped an immediate pass back across the goal to Tipton who finished off this seemingly easy score.

"St. Francis is a good team," said Mitty Coach Scott Blake. "We had some breakdowns. ... They took advantage of those small errors and racked up [four] points in the second half.

As a senior-laden team that is committed to teamwork and defense, St. Francis should once again be formidable in postseason play.

A deep and talented field will await the Lancers. Worthy challengers include Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto and this Mitty squad.

"Any given day, if we're not on our 'A' game and we're not prepared, we're going to be in some trouble," said Reutebuch.

While mindful of the program's tradition of excellence, the team seems focused on the task at hand.

"We just want to win a championship this year ... not necessarily to make a legacy or to make it five in a row," said Reutebuch.

But if the Lancers do take the championship, it will have done both. Section playoffs begin on Nov. 10.

E-mail Scott Campbell at [email protected]


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