Despite a strong start to the season, the Palo Alto High School girls water polo team ended its league season on a sour note. In a devastating one-point loss to crosstown rival Henry M. Gunn High School, the girls placed second in the Santa Clara Athletic League (SCVAL) finals.
The game was close, with the Lady Vikes losing 5-6 to Gunn. Senior Gigi Rojahn scored two points, and senior Katie Francis and sophomores Sophie Frick and Sabrina Hall each made one goal. Sophomore Claire Billman had five saves.
“It was a tough loss, but we knew we could come back stronger in CCS [Central Coast Section],” junior Molly Weitzman said.
The team played Gunn again on Nov. 14, beating them 7-5 in the CCS quarterfinals. They will con- tinue their post-season in a semifinal game against Leland High School on Nov. 19. The Lady Vikes are cur- rently seeded fourth.
Throughout the season, the team suffered and overcame various set- backs.The loss of Paly’s pool and sub- sequent use of Gunn’s aquatic facility was a significant concern for many players, yet they were able to rapidly acclimate to the new pool. Seven out of the team’s 13 original players were new to playing varsity, but the group as a whole was able to work well to- gether. Sophomore Claire Billman filled in at goal for Joanna Falla, who suffered a concussion late October.
“We were able to adapt to any- thing that was thrown our way, and that made us stronger,” Weitzman said.
Despite having beaten Los Altos High School in mid-September, the team lost 8-6 on Oct. 27. Rojahn and senior Claire Drebin led their team in scoring with two goals each, and Frick and Francis both added one
point to Palo Alto’s score. On Nov. 6, the team lost again to Los Altos, this time 6-7, despite strong perfor- mances by the team’s seniors.
“We lost by only one point that was scored in the last few seconds of the game,” Weitzman said. “We were proud of how we played because we showed [Los Altos] how much fight we have in us.”
[pullquote speaker=”Molly Weitzman” photo=”” align=”center” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]We were able to adapt to anything that was thrown our way, and that made us stronger.[/pullquote]
We were able to adapt to anything that was thrown our way, and that made us stronger. Molly Weitzman Junior
The team’s last two wins of the regular season were earned against Lynbrook High School and Moun- tain View High School on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, respectively. In these matches, the seniors provided extra support for the team, both in terms of scoring and morale. Rojahn led her team in scoring against Lynbrook with four goals, Francis added three more and Hall scored the team’s re- maining point. In the game against Mountain View, four of the team’s five seniors scored.
“Our seniors are the most dedi- cated, driven, and determined team- mates I’ve ever had,” sophomore Hol- lie Chiao said. “They’re all always so helpful at every practice and have a never ending supply of tips and tricks that they’re ready to share with you.”
Billman concurred with Chiao, adding that the rest of the team will have to step up next season when the class of 2016 graduates. After this season, five of the original 12 players will leave. This will force the younger Lady Vikes to step up their game and take the places of the graduating seniors. Yet, the team is not phased by the loss and is excited for next season and the challenges it will bring.
“We’re definitely going to miss all of the seniors a lot next year,” Billman said. “But we have players ready to fill the big shoes they’ll leave behind.”