The rain left, the clouds parted and the sun beamed on Mary Brooks, who delivered an exceptional performance on the brightest stage in Central Section girls water polo Saturday.
"She's the complete player, and every coach in Northern California knows who she is," Clovis West coach Scott Torosian said after the junior showed speed and touch, scored six goals and defended as well as the Golden Eagles conquered top-seeded and two-time defending champion Clovis 9-7 for the Division I title in the Cougars' pool.
Brooks, headed to Australia next week as a member of the U.S. team to play in the Youth World Championships, powered second-seeded Clovis West (24-6) to an 8-5 lead before the Eagles repelled a late Clovis drive to the wire.
In the game's key sequence, the Cougars (26-5) -- trailing 8-7 and a player up after a Clovis West kickout -- were whistled for a holding violation with 50 seconds remaining.
The Eagles, who had lost three of four games to their Tri-River Athletic Conference rival coming in, then rushed the other way and scored 12 seconds later on a shot by freshman Sarah Snyder -- her third goal -- to bank their 11th section crown.
"I've had trust in her all year long," Torosian said.
Clovis West's eight-year coach and a 1998 graduate of Clovis, he blended yet another freshman, Mei Williams, with junior Lauren Del Carlo, seniors McKenna Fife, Michelle Reed and Charlee Starkweather, and Brooks to ratchet up their defense in a third-straight D-I final against the Cougars and their 16th consecutive championship appearance. Reed made nine saves.
The Eagles made an immediate defensive statement while bolting to a 3-1 first-quarter lead and sustained it despite three goals by Clovis sophomore Miranda Coleman.
"We did a really good job of pressing and not getting kicked out on drives," Torosian said. "We played great team defense, and that's what we stressed going into the game."
The 5-foot-9 1/2 Brooks awoke with a positive tingle Saturday morning while about to oppose a Cougars team that swept the Eagles in the TRAC while going 10-0 for the second consecutive season.
"I had a really good feeling," she said. "We played with our hearts and we had a lot of motivation from all the past years we've lost to them."
Clovis never found its rhythm.
"Their defense just hammered us from the start," said co-coach Evan Baird of the Cougars, who will advance four players to college on scholarships. "We had no movement and once you kind of get bogged down, it's a real struggle to get going."
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