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Warriors reach finals of San Diego Open water polo tourney

Fallbrook High School’s girls water polo team reached the finals of the San Diego Open tournament.

The Warriors won five of six tournament games between February 4 and 6, losing only to Bishop’s in the championship match. The Warriors played eight games in five days, adding two league matches during the week including a win over Torrey Pines.

“It was kind of a big week,” said Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont.

The Warriors traveled to Jim Stone Pool in Escondido for a February 2 match against Escondido High School. Fallbrook goalkeeper Alex Rodriguez recorded the shutout in the 16-0 win over the Cougars.

Torrey Pines is undefeated in Avocado League play against all teams other than Fallbrook. The Falcons’ only previous league loss was to Fallbrook at UCSD January 19, when the Warriors tied the game with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter and then scored three more goals for a 12-9 victory.

In the rematch February 3 at Fallbrook High School’s pool, the Warriors took a 5-1 lead by the end of the first period. Five different players – Sarah Bushnell, Jackie Verdon, Demi Barrett, Hunter Bowman, and Cassie Dowden – scored Fallbrook goals in the quarter.

“There was a lot of moving the ball around, a lot of good work across the board,” Lamont said.

The Warriors led 6-3 at halftime and 9-5 after three periods before the game ended with Fallbrook on the winning end of the 12-8 score.

Bushnell led the Warriors with five goals against the Falcons, and she also led the team with five steals. Verdon scored three times against Torrey Pines, Barrett had two goals, and Bowman and Dowden each contributed their first-period scores. Dowden led the Warriors with three assists.

Fallbrook twice made the trip to Rancho San Diego for the San Diego Open, playing two February 4 games and two February 5 matches at Valhalla’s pool. The first February 4 match was against Steele Canyon and produced an 11-5 win over the Cougars. Bushnell scored five times, Verdon had three goals, Barrett placed two shots into the net, and Bowman scored once. Dowden led the Warriors with four steals while Lisa Walker had two assists to pace the team in that statistic.

The second February 4 game was against Valhalla, but playing the Norsemen in their pool didn’t prevent Fallbrook from attaining a 14-4 victory. Verdin had seven of the Warriors’ goals, Barrett added four successful shots, Dowden scored twice, and Jennifer Chavez put one ball into the Norsemen’s net. Walker had three steals and three assists.

Fallbrook’s February 5 games produced an 18-3 win over La Costa Canyon and a 19-6 triumph against Westview. Verdon led the Warriors with four goals against La Costa Canyon in a game during which ten different Warrior players scored.

“They stepped it up and showed what they can do,” Lamont said of his bench players who saw action. “That was fun to watch.”

Verdon and Barrett each scored five times against Westview, Dowden and Bushnell had three goals apiece against the Wolverines, and three other players each had one goal. Bowman produced five assists, five steals, and one blocked shot against Westview.

The Warriors played their two February 6 matches at Bishop’s. The first saw yet another match between Fallbrook and Torrey Pines. This time the Warriors overcame a fourth-quarter deficit and won 7-6 with a goal in the third overtime.

“That was a real nail-biter,” Lamont said.

The Warriors were down 6-4 before tying the game with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Torrey Pines subsequently drew a five-meter penalty shot, but Rodriguez blocked the attempt and the game went into overtime. Neither team scored in the first two overtime periods, which consisted of three minutes apiece and were not sudden-death.

“It was quite a defensive struggle,” Lamont said.

The third overtime period was sudden-death, and with two seconds left in the three-minute period Barrett scored to give Fallbrook the victory.

“It was quite a game,” Lamont said.

The win over Torrey Pines put Fallbrook into the finals against Bishop’s, who won the championship with a 15-4 win over Fallbrook.

“They overpowered us pretty well,” Lamont said.

The Knights led 4-2 after the first period.

“We played a great first quarter,” Lamont said. “We just ran out of gas at the end.”

The score was 8-2 at halftime and 13-4 after three periods.

The second-place tournament finish was the highest for either Fallbrook’s boys water polo team or girls water polo team in the past five years. The three Fallbrook selections to the all-tournament team were also the greatest amount over the past five years. Barrett and Verdon were named to the all-tournament first team while Bushnell was selected to the second team.

“That was a good showing,” Lamont said.

The tournament results gave Fallbrook a 21-6 overall record for the 2009-10 season while the league win over Torrey Pines improved the Warriors’ Avocado League record to 7-0.

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