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Water polo tournament gives Warriors struggles, successful rematch

Although Fallbrook High School’s girls water polo team lost three of five matches in the San Diego Open tournament January 26-31, two of those matches were after the Warriors’ earlier performance had placed them in the bracket with the top eight teams of the 40-school tournament and one of the wins avenged an earlier non-league loss.

The tournament sandwiched two Avocado League games, both of which produced Warrior triumphs, so the team played seven matches in six days.

“They did fine,” said Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont. “We’re about where we want to be.”

The Warriors began the tournament with two January 26 games at Montgomery Middle School in El Cajon, which is the home pool of Granite Hills High School.

Fallbrook took on Granite Hills in the first game and lost 10-6. “Losing to Granite Hills at [their] home was a disappointment, but they played very well,” Lamont said.

The second January 26 game was against El Camino. On December 18 Fallbrook and El Camino played in Oceanside. The Wildcats came from behind and won a 13-12 game in overtime. That game also saw Fallbrook overcome a 2-0 deficit to take an 8-6 halftime lead.

In the tournament game the Warriors led 5-2 at halftime but trailed 7-6 at the end of three periods. The game was tied at nine goals apiece at the end of regulation play.

Unlike the non-league game, in which a full overtime period was played, a sudden-death format was used for the tournament overtime.

When a Wildcat player incurred a 20-second penalty, Fallbrook’s Nicole Walker took advantage of the extra-player situation to put the ball into the net for the winning score.

“To turn around and beat them by one goal was a plus,” Lamont said.

Fallbrook goalie Sydney Fitzpatrick had nine saves in the 10-9 victory, including five saves in the fourth period.

“That was a good win for us,” Lamont said. “We felt good after that one, and then we played extremely well against RBV in the next round of the tournament.”

The game against Rancho Buena Vista was played January 30 at Montgomery Middle School. Fallbrook’s 11-5 victory placed the Warriors in the bracket with the top eight teams for the tournament’s final day.

Fallbrook’s two Saturday games were played at The Bishop’s School. Bishop’s was also the tournament winner, and the Knights’ first January 31 game was a 15-3 triumph at Fallbrook’s expense.

“They beat everybody by a similar score,” Lamont said. “Dropping a game to Bishop’s was no big deal.”

Fallbrook’s final game was a 12-10 loss to Scripps Ranch. “Scripps Ranch was a tough loss,” Lamont said.

Other than the championship game between Bishop’s and Mount Carmel, the final day’s tournament games weren’t played for places and the biggest impact of the loss to Scripps Ranch involves comparisons which will be made during the CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting.

Lamont hopes that the non-league loss will provide lessons so that the Warriors can avoid those mistakes during the CIF Division I playoffs.

“I think you’re going to see some dramatic Division I games after the first round,” Lamont said. “Any given day we could beat them, they could beat us.”

The loss to Scripps Ranch gave Fallbrook an overall season record of 14-8. The league wins that week, an 11-7 win at Westview and a 17-4 victory over San Pasqual, gave Fallbrook a 6-0 mark in Avocado League competition.

Multiple all-tournament teams allowed the selection of Fitzpatrick, Walker, and Neika Maryn to all-tournament distinction.

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