What a difference a year can make.
In 2016 the Chaffey girls water polo team finished 8-20 and only 2-8 in the Mt. Baldy League which was only good enough for fifth place out of six teams.
But this year the Tigers went 22-5 overall and 9-1 in league play to tie Alta Loma for the top spot. It marks the first league title in the history of the girls program which started in 2001.
The Tigers are the No. 3 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs which begin on Tuesday. The Tigers will face La Mirada (13-11) in a 5 p.m. match at nearby Ontario High School.
There were no high-profile transfers, no influx of talented freshman. It’s the same team.
“It was really just hard work,” says coach Carlos Mendez, who also directs the school’s boys program. “The girls just decided they wanted to be better and they put in the hours to get better.”
Mendez credits his team captains – senior Briana Kuri and junior Michelle Molina who were the catalysts of the resurgence. The two set the tone and have provided strong leadership.
Mendez also made a change, moving junior Stevie Mendoza from the goal to a field player and inserting junior Destiny Montgomery in at goal. The moved helped the Tigers in both places.
Mendez also thinks the girls team has been inspired by the showing of the boys team which finished as Division 7 runner-up in the fall.
“They saw that water polo can be a successful sport here,” Mendez said “This is the type of school where the kids interact so the girls have seen what the boys did and talked to them about it. They don’t see why they can’t do the same thing.:
The school had to find an alternative site for its home playoff games because half of the pool is too shallow. League by-laws allow for games to be played there but the CIF requires a regulation pool for the postseason.”