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Warriors reach CIF water polo semifinals

Fallbrook High School’s girls water polo team reached the semifinals of the CIF Division I playoffs.

The Warriors won their first two playoff matches before a loss to top-seeded Vista. The semifinal loss left Fallbrook with an overall 26-7 record for the 2009-10 season, including a 10-0 Avocado League mark which earned the league title. “I’m pretty pleased with that,” said Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont. “You never want to lose, but we didn’t have anything to hang our head about.”

The Warriors were given the fourth seed in the Division I playoffs. Because Fallbrook High School’s pool does not meet CIF playoff standards, the Warriors’ first-round match Feb. 17 against Helix was played at La Jolla High School’s Coggan Pool.

The Warriors advanced to the playoff quarterfinals with an 18-6 victory over Helix. “It was pretty one-sided,” Lamont said.

Fallbrook led 6-3 after the first period. “Then the ladies stepped it up and got it going,” Lamont said.

Jackie Verdon played set for the Warriors and scored seven goals. “Once she got in position it was pretty much feed her the ball,” Lamont said.

The Warriors returned to Coggan Pool for a February 20 quarterfinal against Torrey Pines. The game between the Warriors and the Falcons was the fourth this season; Fallbrook won league matches by scores of 12-9 and 12-8 while beating the Falcons in the semifinals of the San Diego Open tournament by a 7-6 score in three overtimes.

In two of the three previous wins over Torrey Pines, the Warriors overcame fourth-quarter deficits. In the playoff match the Falcons scored the game’s first five goals before Fallbrook scored late in the second period to narrow the halftime margin to 5-1. “The momentum from that goal carried over,” Lamont said.

“Initially we were shooting just from the perimeter and we were going high,” Lamont said. “We started working more on cross-cage passing.”

Fallbrook scored the first four goals of the third period to tie the game. “They came back well. They handled it well,” Lamont said.

By the end of the third period five different Fallbrook players had scored goals. “Everybody got involved in the offense, and that was kind of huge,” Lamont said.

With 51 seconds remaining in the fourth period Demi Barrett scored the winning goal, and Fallbrook’s defense held on for a 10-9 victory. “That was a pretty intense game,” Lamont said.

Fallbrook’s reward for that victory was a February 23 game at Coggan Pool against top-seeded Vista. “They were that good,” Lamont said of Vista’s #1 seed. “We swam with them for about seven minutes, and after that they took advantage of mistakes and overpowered us.”

The Panthers only led 1-0 at the end of the first period. “We played even with them, I thought, for the first quarter,” Lamont said. “We actually had a chance to score very early off the sprint and we kind of couldn’t get it done.”

Vista scored all five second-quarter goals. In the third period Fallbrook scored two of its three goals while the Panthers scored three times to end the quarter with a 9-2 lead.

The Panthers advanced to the CIF finals with a 15-3 victory at Fallbrook’s expense. “They blew us out in the fourth and second,” Lamont said.

In 2009 the Warriors reached the CIF quarterfinals. The Warriors only lose two seniors from the 2009-10 team: goalkeeper Alex Rodriguez and driver Cassie Dowden. “It should be good,” Lamont said of next year’s hopes.

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