Christopher High School Girls Water Polo Coach Jim Shuster contributed the following piece on the team and its most recent game:
Christopher High School's water polo season is off to a fast start already, not even a month into the school year.
Going into game four of a 14 game season against Everett Alvarez, the Lady Cougars held a record of two wins with one loss.
With a few fast sprinters, sophomores Natalie Garcia, Hannah Marquez and Sabrina Seery, the team’s focus was on a fast breaks, quick decision making and corner shooting. Adding to the offensive mix is Cougar senior and co-captain Kaitlin Ramirez, who was last year's all-league selection. Ramirez brings a powerful presence controlling the ‘offensive hole’ (center) position scoring over 61 percent of the shots she takes. Rzmirez leads the Cougars with 17 of the team’s 41 goals thus far into the 2012 season.
Co-Captain Julia Graham moves the ball quickly to the offensive end of the pool along with Ramirez. The complexity of the offense starts with Graham, as she selects to pass left, center or right based on the play at hand. As the 30 -econd shot clock winds down, Graham makes split-second decisions on how the plays will unfold.
The Lady Cougars have a strong defense with an outstanding 44 steals through the first three games. The defense is led by Cougar junior and co-captain Shannon McAvoy as well as Seery. They have combined for 21 of the team’s 44 total steals this season. Controlling the hole defense, McAvoy sets the team’s defense on every play. She leads the Cougars' defense with 12 of the team’s 44 steals this season.
In this weekend's game against Everett Alvarez, the Cougar’s started off fast with Garcia winning the sprint then passing the ball to Ramirez. Garcia drove quickly to center cage, receiving the ball from Ramirez and scoring the game’s first goal just 13.5 seconds in. The Cougars went on to score 4 more times in the first quarter. By the end of the second, quarter the Cougars had scored 8 more times, setting the tone for the second half.
The second half was designated for the second and third string. Eight of the 13 girls on the team scored in the game, and 11 of the 13 attempted shots on Everett Alvarez’s goalie.
The defense, led by McAvoy, tallied up six steals and blocked shots. McAvoy and Ramirez switched positions during the second half, allowing McAvoy to take eight shots, scoring four times.
In the cage is Junior goalie Bella Marquez, who has stunned the crowed and her teammates with her blocking abilities in every game. Last week’s game against Scotts Valley High School, Marquez blocked 13 of the opponent’s 18 shots for a save percentage of 72 percent. During the first half of this weekend's game, Marquez blocked eight out of the nine shots taken by Everett Alvarez’s players for a save percentage of 89%. San Jose State first string Goalie Meagan Minson finished the 2011-2012 season with a GAA of 8.39. Marquez's GAA sits at just 8.3 over the last three games, good for lowest in the league.
The plan against Everett Alvarez was to come out shooting fast and hard, use speed and skills to control the first half and then work on improving the team's overall skills. Once we were in a comfortable position at halftime leading 13-1, the first-string took a well deserved break. I was not worried when the athletes from Everett Alvarez scored 9 goals in the fourth quarter. I was more interested in giving everyone on the team a lot of playing time to build depth, confidence and spreading the wealth of playing knowledge throughout the team.