The drama that unfolded Saturday at the Woollett Aquatic Center in the CIF-SS Division 5 girls water polo championship demands an acting analogy: If you showed Bonita the script beforehand, any one of the Bearcats would have been justified for chucking it to the ground in exasperation.
For the second straight year, Temescal Canyon stunned Bonita with a fourth-quarter comeback to capture the section title. This time, the Titans walked away with a 12-11 victory on Dannielle Wenzel’s goal with 1.77 seconds left.
Bonita led by as many as six, 10-4, late in the second quarter.
The Bearcats held an 11-7 lead going into the fourth quarter but allowed five unanswered goals over the final 6:09. They trailed for a total of 50 seconds in the match.
After what transpired here a year ago, the ending had to feel like a nightmare for Bonita. Temescal Canyon overcame a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to claim the 2011 championship game overtime, an invisible force that seemed to pull both teams in opposite directions in the waning minutes Saturday.
“I think that was huge,” Titans coach Damien Andrews said. “The credibility for me as a coach, telling them coming into the fourth quarter, `We’re going to win this game,’ I think that really resonates.”
Added Wenzel: “Once we started coming back, I noticed they (the Bonita players) were getting discouraged.”
The games, of course, are not scripted, which only seemed to add to the frustration for veteran Bonita coach Andy Rosenberg. Asked if he had ever been on either side of such a large fourth-quarter rally he said, “not in a CIF Final.”
Bonita senior Ambyr Stewart scored six goals – all in the first half, at which point the Titans switched to a zone defense that resulted in plenty of double-teams on the talented center. Bearcats sophomore Natalie Rivas scored all three of her goals in the first half, too.
Samantha Snow scored in the first quarter, Erin Gonzalez found the back of the net in the second, and Emily Randall’s goal 55 seconds into the third was Bonita’s final tally of the game.
Goalkeeper Millie Moro made six saves for Bonita, the top-ranked team in the final CIF-SS coaches’ poll. Lina Medeiros made eight saves for second-seeded Temescal Canyon.
Moro made her strongest saves in a third quarter that saw each side score just once after combining for 16 goals before halftime. In the final quarter, Moro got little help from a Bonita defense that didn’t apply the same pressure as it had early in the game.
“We were not aggressive enough,” Rosenberg said. “They did a great job coming back.”
Wenzel scored less than a minute into the fourth quarter to cut Bonita’s lead to 11-8. After Snow was whistled for her third exclusion, forcing her to the bench for the remainder of the game, Melissa Woody buried the Titans’ ninth goal with 5:39 left on the clock.