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Warriors reach CIF girls water polo quarterfinal

Dowden placed on all-league first team

Fallbrook High School's girls water polo team reached the CIF Division II quarterfinal.

The Warriors won their Feb. 8 first-round match against Del Norte, giving Fallbrook a quarterfinal contest against second-seeded Oceanside. The Pirates prevailed in that Febr. 10 game and eventually advanced to the CIF championship game, which Oceanside lost in overtime.

"I'm excited with what we did and how we played," said Fallbrook coach Sean Redmond.

The playoff loss finalized Fallbrook's overall season record at 14‑10. The Warriors were 2-3 in Avocado League play for fourth place in the standings.

Mount Carmel, which concluded the 2023-24 season by winning the Southern California region Division III championship and also won the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship, opened the season Nov. 29 with a 14-7 win over Fallbrook.

The Warriors posted a 2-2 record in the Dec. 1-2 Mount Carmel Invitational tournament, defeating San Marcos and University City while losing to Oceanside and Del Norte.

The 10-9 loss to Del Norte was avenged in a Dec. 8 non-tournament game which had a 7-6 final score in the Warriors' favor. The Warriors then lost matches against La Costa Canyon, Torrey Pines, and Oceanside before closing out pre-league play Jan. 4 with an 18-12 win over University City.

Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook opened Avocado League play against each other Jan. 9 with the Broncos prevailing in that 10-9 match. Fallbrook then won a 20-5 game Jan. 10 against Mission Hills.

The Warriors were victorious in all three of their Jan. 13 Spartan Tournament matches with a 17-8 win over El Capitan, a 15-7 triumph against Our Lady of Peace, and a 10-7 victory in the game with Canyon Crest.

Fallbrook had a league record of 0-2 after a 15-7 loss Jan. 16 at Westview. "We're in D-II. Rancho Bernardo and Westview were in D‑I," Redmond said.

San Marcos lost to Oceanside in a Division II semifinal by a 14-12 margin. "They had a close game with Oceanside in the semifinals," Redmond said.

The Knights' Jan. 18 league game against Fallbrook ended as an 18‑7 San Marcos win. The Warriors' first league victory of 2023-24 was against Poway on Jan. 23, and the final score was 17-15. A 17-7 non-league win Jan. 24 against Vista was followed by a 12-5 league triumph Jan. 30 in Valley Center.

Fallbrook concluded the regular season with two non-league matches which were a 9-5 win Jan. 31 against Canyon Crest and an 18-5 victory Feb. 1 against San Dieguito Academy.

The CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting gave Fallbrook the seventh seed in the Division II playoffs. "I was happy with it," Redmond said.

Del Norte received the 10th seed. Although Fallbrook was the higher seed, the Fallbrook High School shallow-deep pool does not meet CIF playoff standards so the Feb. 8 playoff was at Del Norte's all-deep pool. The 15-11 triumph advanced Fallbrook to the quarterfinals.

Oceanside won the quarterfinal at La Jolla High School's Coggan Pool by a 19-9 margin. "We were outmatched," Redmond said. "We just got outplayed."

Last year, Fallbrook lost to San Marcos in the Division II quarterfinals and finished the 2022-23 season with a 14-11 overall record. The 2022-23 team, which had six seniors, finished 4-1 in Avocado League play to share the league championship.

This year's team had seven seniors.

The North County Conference has a formula for all-league selections. "It's based off of how you place in your league," Redmond said.

Fourth place in the Avocado League allowed Fallbrook one first-team player or two second-team players. The selection of senior Ava Dowden to the first team used up Fallbrook's all-league points. "They're the ones who nominated Ava for first-team," Redmond said of the other coaches.

"I'm excited and proud of her," Redmond said of Dowden. "She did a great job for us, and it's also good that the other coaches recognized her as being that type of an athlete."

The all-league teams did not include honorable mention selections. Dowden received all-league girls water polo recognition for the fourth time while senior Kela Kendall was denied an all-league berth for the first time in her career. Last year Dowden and Kendall were both selected for the Avocado League first team while two 2022-23 seniors were named second-team Avocado League members.

Fallbrook was in the Palomar League for 2021-22 when the league's coaches placed Dowden on the first team and Kendall on the second team. As freshmen in 2020‑21 Dowden and Kendall were both on the Valley League first team.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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