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October 1, 2023

Baler girls polo settles for co-TCAL title

The Hollister High girls water polo team earned a co-Tri-County
Athletic League championship, but there was no celebration.
MORGAN HILL – The Hollister High girls water polo team earned a co-Tri-County Athletic League championship, but there was no celebration. The No. 1 seeded Balers were stunned by host Live Oak in Saturday’s title game by a score of 6-3. Tears welled in the eyes of some Baler players, who were integral parts of a 7-4 victory over the Acorns at the Balers’ pool just last week to give them an undefeated regular league season.

“We’re disappointed,” said the Balers Britta Nordstrom, who had several steals on the day. “Live Oak improved a lot since the last time we played them.”

“We made some adjustments on 6-on-5,” said Acorns coach Brian Traverso, who jumped in the water seconds after the win. “I also subbed a lot of players in and that was key to have fresh players in the second half.”

The No. 10-seeded Balers (20-9) have to ready themselves in a hurry for their first round Central Coast Section match is Tuesday at No. 7 Lincoln of San Jose (23-3) at 3 p.m. The Balers lost 2-1 to the Lions in the first round of the Harbor Beach Invitational a few weeks ago.

“They have a good goalie,” said Nordstrom of Lincoln. “We did pretty well considering we didn’t have any warm-up.”

A victory by the Balers, which would be their first CCS win ever, moves them into a quarterfinal match this Saturday at St. Francis High vs. the winner of No. 15 Castilleja (14-14) and No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep (18-5). Match time is 11:40 a.m.

That’s neither here nor there for the Balers, who jumped to a 1-0 lead over the Acorns (19-7) when Stacey Lass scored on a power play on an assist from Kathryn Adamek. Both defenses tightened as it was impossible for either team to execute its first pass.

Acorns goalie Danielle Maldonado made back-to-back saves on Nordstrom to help swing the momentum back towards the Acorns. Live Oak got the break it needed when it scored on a 6-on-5 with 1:26 left in the first half. Alex Dangerfield’s throw-in to talented freshman Ronni Gautschi, back to a wide open Dangerfield who tied the score 1-1, gaining serious respect. The Balers grabbed the momentum back when Jenna DeCoite tallied on a power play with 41 seconds left, as the ball caromed off Maldonado’s hands and floated barely into goal.

Gautschi went to work early in the third period. She stole the ball from Baler goalie Erin Reed and whipped a shot past Reed to knot the score 2-2 at 6:31. Cameron Bair put the Acorns up for good 3-2 at 4:45. Gautschi struck again on a Live Oak power play for 4-2 Acorns at 2:08.

The Balers, behind a strong fan base which made the 30-minute trip north, sliced the Acorns lead to one goal when Nordstrom dished to Lass on yet another player-up advantage with 5:06 remaining.

However, Chelsea Lanning fired in the final two goals of the match to break the Balers’ hearts.

“We saw them celebrating when they beat us down there,” said Lanning. “We didn’t like it. We weren’t thinking about that much. We just knew we could beat them.”

“We played more as a team today than we did last time,” said Gautschi. “Our seniors wanted to get to CCS real bad.”

The Balers may have lost it due to an offense that seemed stagnant in the spacious Acorns pool.

“We failed to score on our 6-on-5’s,” said Baler coach Derek Kisling. “Not capitalizing on our opportunites killed us.”

Baler bits: The Acorns are seeded 12th and tackle No. 5 Soquel (24-5) at Cabrillo College this Wednesday at 4:30 p.m… When Castilleja and Sacred Heart Prep meet it will be the Gators vs. the Gators… Menlo (24-5) is the No. 1 seed.

Staff Report
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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