By Kara Worrells

Bonita Vista girl’s varsity water polo managed a 16-4 victory against Mater Dei on February 12, securing a spot in CIF playoffs. Excitement of fans revolved around the highlight of “senior night,” in which all of the current senior team members were given, per tradition, a small bouquet of roses. Six seniors were among the 12 total players from Bonita Vista who were celebrated before the game began. Unlike previous years, Mater Dei did not participate in this celebration before the game started.

“I thought it was a really good opportunity to let the seniors play the entire game. Two of the seniors, [Tivoli Melnick and Boran Yoon], are not starters for our regular games, but I had them in the entire time. It was senior night and I expected more in their final game going on into CIF to finish on a stronger note,” head coach Betty Alexander said.

During the first quarter, Bonita began with possession of the ball by Boran Yoon. Junior co-captain Sarah Wahlroos scored the first goal of the game within only seconds.

“It is always good to score the first goal right off the bat because it really sets the tone for the rest of the game. It really made us have that attitude of winning,” Wahlroos said.

The whistle blew, ending the first quarter with a score of 2-0, the Barons lead with a steady start. The second and third quarters provided more aggressive offense and defense.

“We opened up and we started shooting regularly. They built confidence and Sydney Austin, number 12, walked it up, legged up and [took a] clean shot,” Alexander said.

Similarly to several of the other seniors on the team, Austin has been playing water polo for Bonita Vista for several years.

“Just the thought that it would be my last game, I [felt that] I really wanted to try and do things I had not done before. I shot more and overall I took more risks because I thought that I might never get the chance to play again,” senior Sydney Austin said.

Throughout the second and third quarters, defensive clashes with Mater Dei over multiple dry passes resulted in several minor fouls called against Bonita Vista. Three of the four total resulting points gained by Mater Dei were obtained by free throws.

“These are some of the better referees that we’ve had. The referees [sometimes] call in their favor – which is something that you get used to with most sports,” Wahlroos said.

By the end of the fourth quarter, Bonita Vista had a 12-point lead.

“It is always really good towards the end of the game when you have a large lead on the opposing team to know that you have it, you have it in the bag,” Wahlroos said.