Santa Margarita girls rally late to edge Huntington Beach in wild-card thriller
Santa Margarita’s girls water polo team opened the CIF-SS playoffs Tuesday night with the type of victory that could propel the Eagles to a deep run in Division 2.
Senior Christina Doherty and freshman Honnie Vandeweghe combined for seven goals as third-seeded Santa Margarita rallied from a two-goal deficit in the fourth period to edge visiting Huntington Beach, 8-7, in a back-and-fourth wild-card match.
“It just shows that their mental toughness is there and that they’re ready to play,” Santa Margarita coach Brian Weathersby said of his squad, which plays at Riverside Poly in the first round Thursday.
“They didn’t just give up. We kept fighting. … and it paid off.”
Huntington Beach (14-9), ranked sixth in the final Division 2 poll, led, 7-5, going into the fourth period but Vandeweghe sparked the Eagles (20-7) by skipping in a perimeter shot with 4:16 left.
Senior Jessica Leckich followed with perimeter strike about 30 seconds later, tying the score at 7.
Vandeweghe scored the winning goal with 2:23 left on perimeter shot after the Oilers fought off a power play. Huntington Beach four-year goalie Marina Hyham made two of her 11 saves in the sequence before Vandeweghe scored on a low, direct shot from about 5 meters.
“She’s a big part of our team,” the Indiana-bound Doherty said of 5-foot-10 Vandeweghe, whose uncle is former NBA All-Star Kiki Vandeweghe.
Vandeweghe scored three goals while Doherty recorded four goals, six steals and two assists.
Samantha Loughlin and goalie Alexis Kieckhafer (six saves) also were key defenders for the Eagles, who forced five turnovers in the fourth period.
Huntington Beach erased two two-goal deficits in the first half to take the lead three times in the third period.
Junior Nicca Fallah scored a power-play goal from 7 meters with 56 seconds left in the third to give the Oilers a 7-5 lead. Improved center Maddie Bockman scored twice from center in the third en route to a hat trick.
“We played well,” Huntington Beach coach Mark Canner said. “We’re a young team and this was a good time to get some good experience.”
In other games:
In Division 4 wild card:
Esperanza 19, Yucaipa 13: Center Addison Scharr scored seven goals and Rachel Westphal added four to lead the host Aztecs (18-12).
Irvine 9, Chaparral 6: Giulia Hidalgo scored three goals and Caitlyn Prak made eight saves to lead the visiting Vaqueros (12-16).
In Division 6 first round:
Savanna 8, Citrus Valley 7: Senior Kianna David scored a career-high four goals to help the host Rebels (18-8) beat the ninth-ranked team in the division.
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