As the cold wind breezed through the air, Lezly Plahn ‘17 brought the ball deep into opponent territory. Plahn then shot the ball and scored the Dragons’ first goal of the game.
On Friday, the Foothill girls varsity water polo team faced off against Oaks Christian High School at the Ventura Aquatic Center. The Dragons could not slow down the Lions’ offensive force, as they were defeated 10-3 in their first home game of the season.
As the game began, Plahn retrieved the first ball for the Dragons, but possession was eventually recovered by Oaks Christian. The Lions took advantage of the early game possessions, scoring within the first minute of the quarter. In retaliation, Annika Arroyo ‘20 attempted a shot for Foothill, but it was blocked by the Lions’ goalkeeper.
After a series of defensive stops from both sides, Oaks Christian shot and scored once more, giving them a 2-0 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. The Dragons answered back just 30 seconds later, as Plahn cut the Lions’ lead in half. The rest of the quarter yielded no scoring, and Oaks Christian led 2-1.
Once again, the Dragons retrieved the first ball at the start of the quarter and were threatening to tie the score at two. However, the Lions’ defense prevailed and gained possession. With five minutes left to play in the half, goalkeeper Taylor Wreesman ‘18 made a series of saves, preventing Oaks Christian from scoring. Eventually, the Lions scored to extend their lead to 3-1. Foothill came storming back with numerous attempts from Arroyo, leading to a Lions timeout.
Plahn then struck again for the Dragons, scoring her second goal to make the score 3-2 with two minutes left in the half. 30 seconds later, Oaks Christian replied with two goals. Foothill was unable to answer back as the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the half. The Dragons entered halftime and the scoreboard read 5-2.
The beginning of the third quarter featured the Dragons attempting to score on goal multiple times. With five-and-a-half minutes left, Plahn scored once more for Foothill. Twenty seconds later, the Lions nullified Plahn’s last goal, extending their lead to three goals. Attempts by both Oaks Christian and Foothill followed throughout the final five minutes of the quarter, but solid defense came to the forefront again and no goals were allowed. With one quarter left to play, the Dragons continued to tail the Lions, 6-3.
With only seven minutes left to play in the game, Plahn attempted to place her team within striking distance, but the opposing goalie blocked the line drive shot. Oaks Christian then scored their seventh goal of the game, and despite a tipped pass by Josie Thorp ‘18, the Lions scored once again just one minute later.
After a timeout with three-and-a-half minutes left, the Lions continued their relentless pursuit of shooting on goal, which amounted to two more scores. Forced to call a timeout, Foothill now trailed by seven goals with a minute left.
From this point, Oaks Christian ran out the clock until the final buzzer sounded. The Lions had defeated the Dragons with a final score of 10-3.
Despite the tough loss, head Coach Samantha Marinaro acknowledged the players who “put their whole heart” into the game.
“As a coach, that’s what you want to see,” she said. “You can see the [players] who are giving it their all.”
Jaina Malach ‘18 concluded that the tone of the game was rather “aggressive,” adding that it was “fast-paced.”
Regarding her team’s performance, Thorp believes that “there is a lot to improve on.”
The game “showed where our weaknesses were, and that is important at this point in the season,” she said.
It is worth noting that one season ago, the Foothill girls varsity water polo team placed second in the Division VII CIF-SS championships. Since then, the program has moved up to Division III and will face many new opponents in the following games.
The Dragons look forward to their next contest, which is an away game against the Cardinals of Santa Paula High School.