By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Who knows what life will be like without Ambyr Stewart for the Bonita High School girls water polo team.
But one thing is certain, with Stewart the Bearcats were a force to be reckoned with the past four years, winning a CIF-Southern Section title her freshman year, advancing to the quarters her sophomore season and finishing with back-to-back title-match appearances as a junior and senior.
The ending wasn’t what Stewart was hoping for, but she enjoyed the journey.
Bonita gave up a goal with 1.77 seconds left in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship game and lost for the second straight year in the final to Temescal Canyon, 12-11.
But for Stewart – who was named the Hacienda League MVP, Division 5 MVP and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune Player of the Year after amassing 109 goals for the season and scoring six in the title game – it was all a great ride. (To continue click thread)
2012 TRIBUNE GIRLS WATER POLO ALL-AREA
Player of the Year: Ambyr Stewart, Bonita, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Andy Rosenberg: Bonita
Mia Rycraw, Walnut, Jr.
Stephanie Contreras, Los Altos, Jr.
Cambria Shockley, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Hanna Lancaster, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Natalie Rivas, Bonita, So.
Emily Randall, Bonita, Sr.
Megan Snow, Bonita, Sr.
Erin McCarthy, St. Lucy’s, Jr.
Maddie Moran, Charter Oak, Sr.
Rachel Stock, St. Lucy’s, Jr.
Catie Tuning, Los Altos, Sr.
Erica Venegas, Los Altos, Jr.
Kristen Swafford, Walnut Sr.
Mandy Darafeer, Charter Oak, Sr
“We had such a great season that even though we didn’t win the title, I loved the team I was on this year,” she said.
“Another ring would have been nice to have, but I’ll take the friendships, the memories and the great times that we had battling and fighting. We were sisters, that meant more to me than a ring. I don’t need to change anything, I’m happy with how the season went.”
Stewart’s resume includes back-to-back Hacienda League MVP awards to go with league first-team honors her freshman and sophomore years.
She was a CIF-SS Division 5 first-team selection her junior and senior years and earned the divisional MVP award this season. She’s also a two-time high school All-American and finished her career with 368 goals, scoring 110 last year, 106 as a sophomore and 42 her freshman year.
Stewart earned a scholarship to UC Irvine, where she always wanted to go.
“I’m really excited for the next level,” Stewart said. “That’s the only college I wanted to go to. I’ve known their coaches for a while, it’s the perfect fit for me.”
Bonita coach Andy Rosenberg earned Tribune Coach of the Year honors for leading the Bearcats to the Hacienda League title and divisional title game. Bonita was the area’s top team.
“I knew we would be pretty good,” Rosenberg said. “We have a lot of great club players and of course you have Ambyr.
“I wasn’t sure how far we would go this year, but I knew with the group we had a chance for a special season. Even though we didn’t win the title, going to back-to-back finals is a big accomplishment.”
Along with Stewart, Bonita’s Natalie Rivas, Emily Randall and Megan Snow earned Tribune first-team honors as well.
Randall and Rivas were also Division 5 and Hacienda League first-team selections and Snow was a Hacienda League first-teamer and Division 5 second-team pick.
St. Lucy’s, which advanced to the Division 3 semifinals and lost a heartbreaker to Arroyo Grande, 6-5, landed two players on the first team, seniors Cambria Shockley and Hanna Lancaster.
Shockley earned the Sierra League player of the year award and was a Division 3 first-team pick. Lancaster, who will join Stewart at UCI, was a Sierra League and Division 3 first-team selection.
Los Altos’ Stephanie Contreras is only a junior and already has earned back-to-back Tribune first-team honors and was the Tribune’s player of the year as a freshman, when she set a CIF-SS single-season record with 188 goals.
Contreas helped the Conquerors finish second in the Hacienda League behind Bonita, and the Conquerors advanced to the Division5 quarterfinals.
Contreras scored 131 goals this season to give her 498 in her career, which is third on the CIF all-time goal-scoring list. She needs 123 goals her senior year to become the all-time scoring leader, a spot currently held by La Salle’s Kara Leigh-Huse, who set the record with 620 career goals from 2004-08.
Walnut junior goalkeeper Mia Rycraw earned first-team after helping the Mustangs advance to the second round of the Division 5 playoffs, losing to eventual champion Temescal Canyon.
Rycraw’s efforts this season didn’t go unnoticed. In addition to earning Tribune first-team honors, she was named to the Hacienda League and Division 5 first-team list.
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