The Central Section’s standard bearer in high school girls water polo is back on top.
And Clovis West’s record-extending 13th championship was propelled by a stifling defensive effort down the stretch.
The No. 2 Golden Eagles didn’t yield a goal over the first 6 minutes, 29 seconds of the fourth quarter while pulling away from top-seeded and defending champion Clovis for a 9-7 victory in the Division I final Saturday at the Jim Coiner Aquatics Center.
“Defense, it’s what we’ve been preaching all year long,” 12th-year Clovis West coach Scott Torosian said. “Our offense was clicking today, so as long we played good defense, I knew we’d be OK.”
The Golden Eagles made their 20th consecutive trip to the section final and faced Clovis for the eighth straight time. The Cougars won 5-3 last season.
“It was a really hard defeat last year,” said Fresno State-bound Maddie Loggins, who led Clovis West with three goals. “So it was more about not letting that happen again, not feeling those feelings again. If you look around, we don’t have those feelings anymore. We’re super excited and super blessed to have it back with us.”
Clovis West (21-10) and Clovis (23-9) entered the fourth quarter tied 6-6 after the Cougars’ Callie Woodruff converted a penalty shot with 0.9 seconds left in the third.
But the Golden Eagles scored on consecutive possessions early in the fourth, first from Caitlyn Snyder and from Lisa Moreno with 4:32 left to move ahead 8-6.
When Loggins scored for a three-goal lead with 1:35 to play, it essentially sealed the outcome for Clovis West, which lost two of three games against Clovis during the regular season.
“Honestly, this win feels so good,” Moreno said. “We’ve battled with Clovis High since my freshman year. Every single time we play them it’s a really intense game, and they always give us a good battle. It just makes the sport that much more fun. We worked so hard all season for this. I know the girls I’ve played with since I was a freshman wanted this so badly. It feels amazing to get this win.”
Clovis, seeking its fifth section title, jumped out to a 3-1 lead early in the second quarter on two goals from Fresno State recruit Callie Woodruff and one from Trystyn Vuori.
Clovis West responded with goals from Moreno, Loggins and UC Davis-bound Ally Clague to force a 4-4 tie at halftime.
Snyder and Moreno scored twice, while Clague and Lauren Cotton each had one goal for Clovis West, which also received seven saves from Fresno State-bound goalie Hannah Duggins.
Woodruff led Clovis with four goals, while Vuori, Raylene McVicar and Anna Brazill added one.
“Bottom line, if we wanted to win, we needed to play a little better,” Cougars coach Noah Minton said. “But to their credit, Clovis West played their best game of the season.”