The undefeated Lady Hornets water polo team kept their amazing run going Saturday at Citrus College. Defeating rival Riverside Community College 9-8 to win the Southern California Regional Tournament. This win marks the fifth time this season the Lady Hornets have defeated the Tigers.
Riverside came out like a tidal wave, scoring five goals in the first quarter. The Lady Hornets found themselves down by their largest margin all season, down 5-1 with the first quarter winding down.
“Our girls faced some adversity, trailing early on. I called a timeout, talked to the girls and we made some adjustments,” said head coach Gabriel Martinez.
Although Fullerton made some mistakes early, there was never any panic or finger pointing going on for the Lady Hornets.
“We don’t ever get down on or yell at each other, we are never condescending. We motivate each other,” said utility player Angelica Hernandez. “We see that in other teams, they curse at and are very rude to each other at times, and for us it’s always like, ‘it’s ok, we will get it next time.'”
The Lady Hornets have hung their hats on superior conditioning all season, giving them complete confidence that they will outwork everybody down the stretch.
“Once again, our composure and conditioning was the difference,” said Martinez.
Just like the four previous meetings, the game was extremely close, playing right into Fullerton’s strengths. With the game tied at 8-8 and the game clock under two-minutes, the Lady Hornets scored a goal to take their first lead of the entire game with just about a minute and a half left to play.
Although they have already defeated them five times this season, Fullerton may not be done playing Riverside. Both teams qualified for the California State Finals, taking place this coming weekend.
The games between Fullerton and Riverside have been so close and all gone Fullerton’s way. Martinez completely dismisses the the train of thought that perhaps Riverside is due for a victory should the two teams meet again in the finals.
“No way! No way! That thought does not even cross our mind. We have the utmost confidence that we will win. In fact, if anything we believe we will be even better next time we play.”
Many of the girls echo Martinez’s confidence, should they meet Riverside again.
“We are all more excited, we know that we are going to win it. I am confident in my team, I know that we all play for each other,” said utility player Gissell Martinez.
“We look back at all of the games, and look at all the things that we could’ve done better and then we just fix them,” said Hernandez. “We are so prepared for this tournament. I think we will win by more if we face them again.”
Indicative of any great team, Fullerton has faith in and attributes their success to everyone around them. While coach Martinez shines all of the light upon his team, his girls reflect the light straight back at their beloved coach.
“He has been successful everywhere he has been. We want to win state for him,” said Nicole Williams. “Most of us came here because of him.”
“He has faith in his girls. He knows that we can be good and he does whatever he can so that we reach our best,” said Gissell Martinez.
With one last hurdle ahead of them, the Lady Hornets are sprinting towards the finish line, with confidence and momentum on their side. If the girls season mirrors how many of their game plays out, then a perfect season is certainly within their grasp.
The California State Tournament will be held at American River College from November 20-23. Fullerton will be coming in as the #1 ranked team in the state, while Riverside comes in ranked #3. Rounding out the rest of the state finals are two Northern California teams, #2 Diablo Valley and #4 Foothill College.