No. 2 Monache holds off No. 7 Kingsburg 7-5, semis up next

Monache High School's girls water polo teams is good.

Going by just their 21-4 overall record and second seed for the CIF Central Section Division II Championship tournament, there's no denying that.

But like any good team it is what they do under pressure that bolsters that claim.

The Marauders showed their resilience with a 7-5 win over the seventh-seed Kingsburg Vikings (14-5) in Saturday's quarterfinal game at home. It was the team's closest win of the season since a 12-10 win against Div. II Reedley on Aug. 22.

“We just kept saying, 'Play our game, play our game,'” MHS head coach Kyla Conway said. “And I told them at the end of the day, no matter what the game looked like, good teams find a way to win. We're a good team and we found a way to win. Wasn't pretty all the time but I mean, we won. So we're moving on.”

Ahead 4-2 after halftime, Monache was put on their heels in the fifth minute of the third quarter when Kingsburg scored two goals in 25 seconds to tie the game.

But something kicked in the Marauders and less than a minute later, co-captains Claire Schrein and Kalina Weaver, scored, respectively, to regain the lead.

Another goal from Kingsburg in the fourth made it a one-goal game but from there out the Vikings could take shots, but captain and goalie Infinity Dignam wasn't letting anything through. Dignam helped shut Kingsburg's offense down to finish with 14 saves, one steal and one assist.

“Fin's wonderful,” Conway said. “She knows how to be a leader in the pool. She knows how to step up in big games, she knows how to keep her composure. She knows how to make the smart play at the right time. I mean she's amazing. She played really well today. Saved us a lot.”

Monache never trailed but they were also never ahead by more than two goals. After Ava LoBue's two quick goals to start the game and another mid-quarter goal from Schrein, the team led just 3-2 after the first. In the second, Nevaeh Castillo was the only Marauder to score while the team also held Kingsburg to a single goal.

“I thought the girls played amazing defense and they actually did a lot of good things on offense, and then we just didn't capitalize on it,” Conway said. “They were making little mistakes that I've never seen them make before.”

The coach added, “We weren't making the extra move to move the goalie. We weren't making the extra move to move the defense. We were shooting shots we shouldn't shoot at the wrong times and then shooting the wrong shot at right time. So it was just a lot of normal things that they don't normally do. But like I said, at the end of the day they found a way to win and they're a good team.”

Schrein scored the team's last goal with 53 seconds to play to lead the team with three goals and three steals. LoBue had a team-high four steals to go with her two goals while Castillo also had three steals.

The road back to the team's first Valley championship game continues Wednesday when they take on sixth-seed Atascadero, who also defeated 14th-seed Morro Bay 7-5 in their quarterfinal game.

No. 1 Hanford West 14

No. 8 Strathmore 4

Eighth-seed Strathmore High School girls water polo lost 14-4 to top-seed Hanford West in Saturday's CIF Central Section Division III quarterfinal game on the road.

Paulina Cemo led the team with three goals and Sidney Hartsell had one goal.

The Spartans went 4-4 in the East Sequoia League and finish the season with a 9-13 overall record.

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