It’s hard enough having to rebuild once. Try doing it twice in one season. That has been the tough task the Alta Loma girls water polo team has faced. And despite that, the team has clinched a Mt. Baldy League title and is just one win away from a perfect league record.
The Braves advanced to the CIF semifinal last year before falling to a talented Hillcrest team.
But the Braves graduated eight seniors, seven of those starters.
Then the player who was supposed to be the starting goalie abruptly quit in late August after participating in the entire summer program. Coach Kevin Nesbit called on junior Mallory Johnson, who had only just started playing the sport in June. Her rapid progress is a major factor in the team’s 16-6 record which includes a 9-0 in league play.
“She really answered the call,” said Nesbit, of his goalie who has 67 saves in league play.
Then mid-season another player quit. It wasn’t a matter of sticking one player in that position. It was a lineup change that resulted in a lot of moving parts.
Senior Ashley Hernandez, who has 29 goals in league play, was among the players having to adapt to a new position. Among the others was senior Kyleigh Marquez.
Nesbit also singles out the play of junior Vanessa Murray, the team’s leading scorer, as well as freshman Julia Bensing-Ruiz, who Nesbit says is small but crafty with high water polo IQ.
The Braves are currently ranked seventh in Division 7. As to just how far this team can go? Nesbit was only hoping for a first round win last year and his team far exceeded that. He won’t put anything past this team.
“I think anything is possible with this team,” he said.