IRVINE, Cal., Feb. 16. SANTA Margarita High's girls' water polo team is on a roll.
The Eagles, top-seeded Division 1 team in the CIF playoffs, blasted Irvine, 8-1, this afternoon at Heritage Park Pool to move into the semi-finals
Wednesday against Long Beach Wilson.
Following an opening-round 13-7 victory over Capistrano Valley, Santa Margarita (24-3) rode the scoring of UCLA-bound senior Kristina Kunkel's three goals for an easy win.
Wilson scored a 14-7 playoff opemer against Villa Park, but appeared to be in over its head against fourth-ranked El Toro. Not quite. Wilson's Bruins
scored a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over the Chargers, holding them scoreless the final 12:43.
Wilson, which in girls' polo's inaugural season in 1998 swept to a 27-0 record before bowing in the CIF Finals to a Marina squad featuring three froshwomen, thus advances to the semis for the first time in four years.
The Bruins, 17-9, scored the game's final five goals while blanking the Chargers.
"We really wanted it more than they did," said Wilson senior Cassie Azevedo, who rifled home the tying goal with 4:19 remaining on a cross-pass from Lauren Wenger.
Azevedo is the "kid" sister of Stanford All-America (and last season's NCAA MVP) Tony, who in his freshman year on The Farm last fall helped lead the Cardinal to the national collegiate championship over UCLA. Their dad is head polo coach at Cal. State Long Beach.
The game's winning goal was scored by Bruin rookie Lauren Silver, daughter of former U.S. Olympic swimmer Kathy Heddy. Silver's shot rifled the cage with 3:41 remaining and came on a Bruin counterattack. She was the match's leading scorer with four goals and has eight in two playoff encounters.
Her mom, an excellent sprinter-flyer in the mid-1970s, was a member of the USA 400 free relay team that took the gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
The Chargers led 5-2 after the first period, and were up 7-3 after Jenna Burnett's goal with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter.
"We're excited [to have gotten this far and face top-seeded Santa Margarita]," said Wilson coach Tony Maretinho. "It's taken the whole season for us to come together."
The Bruin starters include two freshmen and a junior.
In other Division 1 quarter-final action, second-seeded and double-defending CIF champ Foothill routed Edison, 15-zip. The Knights walloped Woodbridge, 12-1, in opening-round play.
Brittany Hayes scored six goals and Emily Feher and Katie Krumpholz blocked 4-meter penalty shots for Foothill.
Newport Harbor (23-6), seeded third and ranked sixth in the polls, scored the other quarter-final win with a 6-2 with a 6-2 win over San Clemente. Goalie Leah Grocki made 11 saves as the Sea Kings cruised past the Tritons.
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In Division II play, top-seeded Santa Barbara advanced to the semis with a 7-3 win over Long Beach Cabrillo. The Dons are 22-6.
In Division III action, double-defending CIF champ Bell Gardens won a "laugher" over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 24-1, to run its record to 27-1. Their only loss came in the Southern California Invitational a coiuple of weeks ago. In a pair of playoff games the Lancers have scored 43 goals while allowing only a single tally.
They're ranked fifth in the latest pool and are looking to move up with a couple of more victories, which also would result in a third-consecutive CIF
Second-seeded Crescenta Valley also gained the semis with a 15-6 win over Chino, which came on the heels of a 12-6 opening-round win over South Pasadena.
Division IV action saw top-sseded Corona del Mar, which won the boys' Division II championship last November and was considered the top team in the country, rode Brittany Bowlus' and Christina Hewko's four goals each to a 16-8 win over Santa Monica.
CDM's Sea Kings are now 23-7.
Second-seeded Irvine University's Trojans advanced with a 9-4 win over Fullerton, while El Dorado (5-3 winners over Laguna Beach) and Tustin (8-7 victors over Sonora) comrpise the other semi finalists.
University (19-11)got balanced scoring from the trio of Marina Mayer, Julie Voorhees and Alaina Sudeith, each of whom scored a pair of goals.
Jennifer Doran tallied two second-half goals to help lead El Dorado's Golden Hawks (14-13) over Laguna Beach's Artists (20-10).
Tustin's Tillers (25-5) rallied from a 6-2 third-quarter deficit to advance to their first semi-final. The Tillers scored five goals in the final period, leading Coach Dean Crow to understate: "Big fourth quarter."
Tustin's Jackie McKee scored two of her five goals in the last period while Sonora Raider Samantha Arnold had three goals for the losers (19-7).