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Five Warrior girls earn water polo all-league honors

Five members of Fallbrook High School’s girls water polo team earned all-league honors, including four who were selected to the Avocado League’s first team.

The league’s first team included senior goalie Alex Rodriguez, junior two-meter players Demi Barrett and Jackie Verdon, and sophomore driver Sarah Bushnell. Senior driver Cassie Dowden made the second team.

“I think it demonstrates that this was a total team effort,” Fallbrook coach Bob Lamont said of having five players earn all-league honors. “I had a number of offensive weapons, all different.”

Rodriguez had a save percentage of 57.5 percent, the highest figure for a Fallbrook starting goalkeeper in Lamont’s two seasons as the girls coach and five seasons as the boys coach. She blocked six penalty shots during the year, including two against Avocado League player of the year Anique Hermann of Torrey Pines. One of those blocks against Hermann, who was also the league’s player of the year for 2008-09, was in the final two minutes of the San Diego Open tournament, preserving a tie and eventually allowing Fallbrook to win in overtime. “She was also instrumental in our counterattacks,” Lamont said of Rodriguez.

Bushnell, Verdon, and Barrett were all unanimous first-team selections, and the fact that all three are expected to return for the 2010-11 season is pleasing to Lamont. “Got a solid place to build on for next year, and we certainly have a lot of good young talent,” Lamont said.

Barrett was the team’s principal two-meter defender but still led the team with 109 goals. “She could get down and get into the offense,” Lamont said. “She also is one of our perimeter shooters.”

Fallbrook won all ten of its league games, and the closest of those matches was a 6-5 win over La Costa Canyon. In that game Barrett scored on four extra-player opportunities. Barrett also scored the winning goal against Torrey Pines in the second round of the CIF playoffs. “Very potent offensive weapon. Very strong defender. Hustles up and down the pool,” Lamont said. “A real leader in the water for us.”

Verdon was second on the team with 97 goals. “Just a good all-around player,” Lamont said.

“She always has to go against the heart of the defense,” Lamont said of Verdon. “She still was able to put the ball in the net that many times.”

Bushnell’s 63 goals ranked third on the team. She also contributed 47 assists, and her 138 steals were exceeded on the CIF all-time single-season list on only seven occasions. Bushnell also won 76 percent of her sprints. “She’s one of the most dynamic players in her ability to drive and use her speed to get into position,” Lamont said. “Never stops. Not afraid to pass the ball. Not afraid to shoot the ball.”

Dowden was fourth on the team in goals scored. She also ranked fourth in assists and steals. “It was her consistency of play that got most of the coaches’ attention,” Lamont said. “Just always seems to be at the right place at the right time and just a real good player.”

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