The math almost doesn’t add up. The Los Osos girls water polo program has only been in existence for eight years. Yet it has been six years since the team failed to make an appearance in a CIF-SS championship game.
The Grizzlies, seeded second in Division 3, will play in their fifth straight title game Saturday at 11:40 a.m. when they take on No. 4 seed Palos Verdes at their home away from home, the William Woolett Aquatics Center in Irvine. Of course there is one small detail. Los Osos won the 2009 CIF championship in its first finals appearance but it hasn’t won one since.
“The last three have left a sour taste in our mouth,” Los Osos coach Eric Cypher said. “We’re definitely looking for that next one. But I’m proud of the girls for getting to this game again. No matter the result, we’re playing good water polo in this program.”
The stakes for Los Osos today are obviously high, but they could have conceivably been higher. The Grizzlies nearly drew a third consecutive finals rematch with Harvard-Westlake, the division’s No. 1 seed this season. Harvard-Westlake won its first playoff game by 18 and its second by six but Palos Verdes, the second-place team from a Bay League that produced No. 3 seed Mira Costa, ousted the top seed from the postseason courtesy of a 12-7 defeat in the semifinals.
Last season, it was Los Osos that was the No. 1 seed in Division 4 when Harvard-Westlake set a finals record for fewest goals allowed in a 9-2 win. Two years ago, Los Osos’ season ended with a 10-7 loss in the final to Harvard-Westlake.
In a regular-season meeting this year, Los Osos won a one-goal game with the defending Division 4 champions, but they will be facing a team with a different style against Palos Verdes.
“It will be more like a swim meet against (Palos Verdes),” Cypher said. “They’re a lot like us in that they like to get up and down the pool and they took advantage of that against Harvard-Westlake. Both teams can obviously play.”
For seniors like Kristen Jensen, a four-year member of the Los Osos varsity and a three-year starter, simply holding the trophy at the end of today’s game will be a momentous occasion no matter the runner-up.