Fullerton routs Costa Mesa in first round of girls water polo playoffs

Fullerton’s rising girls water polo team reached a new level Wednesday night.

The Indians displayed postseason consistency by defeating visiting Costa Mesa 11-4 in a CIF-SS Division 5 first-round match at Troy High.

Behind six goals from senior center Kaya Ortega and 14 saves by Madi Toy, Fullerton (23-7) won a first-round match for the second consecutive year in its revival under Coach Shane Unger.

“Since I was a freshman, I’ve seen this team develop from not much of anything to a team that can beat some pretty good teams,” said Ortega, who also drew two exclusions and added a field block.

Fullerton, the second-place team in the Freeway, didn’t make the playoffs in 2015 or 2016 but can reach the quarterfinals for a second consecutive year with a second-round victory Thursday at Diamond Bar.

Diamond Bar defeated Fullerton 11-9 in an early-season tournament. The Brahmas handled Kennedy 10-4 in a first-round game Wednesday.

“I think it’s a perfect time for some redemption,” Ortega said. “I think we’re an entirely different team now.”

Fullerton put away the Mustangs (14-14) with a surge late in the third. Ortega scored on an after-goal play, putting away a cross-pool pass from Jacque Perez to extend the Indians’ lead to 7-3 with 50 seconds left.

With seconds left in the third, Fullerton’s Hannah Cashin drew a penalty shot, which Ortega converted for an 8-3 lead with 13 seconds remaining.

Junior Sofia Rice scored three goals and added four steals for a young Costa Mesa squad, which went 1 for 7 with the extra attacker and missed a 6-on-4 chance.

“They were able to capitalize off our mistakes,” Costa Mesa coach Dustin Serrano said. “But we have two sophomores and a freshman starting … A good experience for the younger athletes.”

Also in Division 5:

Sunny Hills 10, Cal 2: Skylar Bowles scored four goals to lead the host Lancers (26-4).

In Division 3:

Dana Hills 16, Palm Desert 5: Lauren Bellavia had five goals and four assists and Kaylyn Pierce made 10 saves to lead the host Dolphins (13-16) to a win in the wild-card round.

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