Girls’ water polo nearly undefeated in dominant season

October 16, 2018 — by Andrew Li and Alan Zu

The girls’ water polo team recently had its first loss of the season, a 13-5 to Mountain View on Oct. 13. However, the team still has an overall record of 17-1 and a league record of 12-0.

The team is in the lower El Camino Division and has two more games remaining: one against Cupertino on Oct. 16, and one against Harker on Oct. 18.

Ever since beating Harker by a score of 10-6 on Sept. 4, the team has won almost all of their games by a large margin, sometimes by more than 10 goals.

Senior defender and driver Sarah Daoudi said she felt nervous after the 10-6 win.

“The Harker game was stressful for our first game because we weren’t sure how the season was going to go after coming close to losing, but we’ve been close to undefeated ever since,” Daoudi said.

The team beat Santa Clara 15-5 on Oct. 2. Though Daoudi’s thumb was injured during the match, she emphasized the importance of beating key rival Santa Clara.

“They were the team we were most worried about in this league,” Daoudi said. “They were definitely our competitor. We beat them the first time, and now we have beaten them three times.”

During the Oct. 4 game against Monta Vista, the girls won 24-7, with senior Maddie Stuart scoring nine points. Senior Madison Hartmann also got six assists and seven points.

Senior set defense Emma Ford attributed the team’s success to the hard work and dedication that each member brings to every practice and game. She said that sometimes some players even come to practice early.

Also, the team is doing a lot of conditioning to strengthen themselves. According to junior goalkeeper Sammy Mokhberi, the team is focusing on leg work. In addition, the team is working on team bonding to improve communication in games.

Ford said that their hard work has paid off: their counter-attack has been effective during games and the team scores many points off turnovers.

In addition to their polished counter attacks, the team has a very capable goalie, Mokhberi, on their side. Ford said that Mokhberi has leapt out of the goal in games to block shots ranging from half court to right in front of the goal.

Mokhberi is backed by a robust defense, including Stuart and Ford, making it virtually impossible for Cupertino to score in the game on Sept. 25,  which the team won 18-1.

“Cupertino tried shooting goals, but the only shots they could take were close to half court,” Ford said, praising the defense.

One notable game that the team played was their 14-7 match against Santa Teresa on Sept. 14, during which Ford was punched in the face. The opposing player who punched her was ejected.

“That was a very stressful game, because we were playing against a team that used violence to try to win rather than actually playing water polo,” said Daoudi. “The referees didn’t see any of what happened, so we had to suck it up for most of the game. It wasn’t water polo anymore. It became a fistfight.”

Though their 17-game win streak was broken, the girls still hope to make CCS this year.

“We definitely want to make it to CCS since we are No. 1 in our league,” Daoudi said. “The number one team in the bottom league gets to go to CCS, so if we can stay undefeated, then we can go to CCS, which is our other goal.”