Lexy Poveda and the Alta Loma Braves defeated the Murrieta Mesa Rams, 7-4, to win the San Gorgonio girls water polo tournament Dec. 27.
Poveda scored three goals for the Braves while Sydney Smith contributed with one goal and three saves in the victory over the Rams, who were looking to win their third consecutive San Gorgonio Tournament Championship.
Leading up to the game with the Braves, the Rams had won its first three games of the tournament by at least 15 goals apiece.
Braves head coach Kevin Nesbit was aware of the Rams accomplishments in the tournament, but felt the biggest challenge came from within.
“The mindset was really to go in and control our offense and keep the momentum in our favor,” Nesbit explained. “Our defense presented a strong case for our team in this tournament, it was our offense that was going to make or break us.”
Raeann Lopez, Leanne Butler and Kyleigh Marquez contributed to the Braves’ offense against the Rams, scoring one goal apiece.
Nesbit also believes that several lessons were learned during this tournament that can be applied going forward, including the importance of goal setting and teamwork.
“I make sure the girls are strong of mind, in and out of the water. I push them to achieve their goals, whether that be attending college, developing their skills to a certain elevated level, being a better well rounded person or student,” Nesbit explained. “We also learned the importance of teamwork (in the water). Coming together is the beginning; staying together is progress; putting forth effort together is success…..today I saw success.”
Lopez stated that the tournament showed the unity between the players on the team this season as they prepare for their goals heading into league play.
“We all have come together as a team and it showed this weekend,” Lopez said. “We are going to focus on trying to be 10-0 during (league play) and make our way to CIF.”
Teammate Monica Martinez believes that the tournament provided the team with opportunities to build off of.
“We have more opportunities to improve the way we handle ourselves and can learn how to surpass the difficult situations we face,” she said. “The tournament have given us many opportunities to play against teams that are a higher division, such as the team we played in the finals, which was a Division II team.”
The Braves (8-4) will play at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 8 against Montclair in the Mt. Baldy League opener.
It was something reserved for an overmatched opponent in September, but the Los Osos High School boys water polo team saved it for mid-November.
The Grizzlies reeled off 10 consecutive second-half goals to make a one-goal deficit a distant memory on their way to a 13-5 win over Arroyo Grande on Wednesday in the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals at Irvine High. The victory landed second-seeded Los Osos (22-8) in its third CIF final in five years, a run the Grizzlies would love to bookend with championships when Saturday’s meeting arrives with No. 1 seed Santa Maria Righetti, an 18-17 overtime winner in its semifinal.