Water polo takes a dive

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By Tamara Hoyt

By Tamara Hoyt

How did we mess this up? We had beat them three times this season. We were supposed to be the state champions. What went wrong?

The game began at 1 p.m. on Nov. 18. Thirty-eight stressful game minuets later, Long Beach City College was crowned 2006 COA Women’s State Water Polo Champions.

We lost! After one of the most successful seasons in RCC water polo history, we were second place.

The season started out at a breathtaking pace, opening with two back-to-back tournament wins. We won every game we played, and for a while we seemed infallible. We conquered Long Beach, Diablo Valley, Golden West, and Fresno, all teams that finished in the top 10, by a three-point margin. A state championship seemed only another game in our path to victory.

Boy, were we wrong.

We had our first hiccup at the regional tournament, after a 57-game win streak. We were to play Long Beach in the championship game of the tournament. We had already qualified for state and had beaten Long Beach three times before. Our attitude was more or less nonchalant.

Long Beach scored the first point of the game. We didn’t panic; we had been down before. The lead flipped back and fourth between our two teams throughout the game. With 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter, we were down by one point. The women ran their offense and scored. We were tied.

The team began to calm down; we could win this thing in overtime. Long Beach still had about 20 seconds, so we didn’t let up. We played our defense well and waited for a shot, which came with only three seconds left.

Goalie Jessica McLaughlin blocked the ball as we began to stand up to switch sides for overtime. One of the Long Beach women got the rebound and shot again.

0.27 seconds left in the game and we were down by one. Teresa Fleming shot the ball off the whistle and missed. We lost the game.

The team was devastated. There was cursing and crying as we came to terms with the fact that we had lost.

With our egos deflated, we returned to practice. We worked on every aspect of our game, and three practices later, we felt ready for anything. Only this time we were confident, not cocky.

We left Nov. 15 after practice for Fresno. The next day we had two games.

The first was against Golden West, which we defeated 11-3. The second was against Diablo Valley, which we won 10-4. It seemed we were back in our stride.

Unfortunately for us, Long Beach also won both of its games.

Our skills would be tested as we faced Long Beach for a second time in a week. Tensions were at an all-time high, but we were ready, or at least we though we were.

The game began at 1 p.m. on Nov. 18. We started out slow. Long Beach scored the first goal again, but we didn’t lose hope. The score was 1-1 at the end of the first quarter. We started the second quarter with enthusiasm, winning the sprint and scoring two matched goals in the second quarter. At the half, the score was 3-3.

We had held our own thus far, and knew that if we played solid “Riverside water polo” we could win.

The third quarter began as we won the sprint. We scored one goal to Long Beach’s two in the third quarter. At the beginning of the final quarter, we were down by one with a score of 4-5.

In the fourth quarter we played seven scoreless minutes. With about one minute left in the game, Brittany Koralewski scored a goal to tie the game.

This time the team took 20 seconds more seriously as the game clock came to a close. We were going into overtime.

The first three-minute overtime went by quickly, as neither team scored a goal. The second overtime period seemed as if it was going to be scoreless as well until Long Beach scored.

In the end, after four eight-minute regulation quarters and two three-minute overtime periods, the score was 5-6.

At the end of the game Tiffany Strickland, Melissa deJonckheere, Rylee Scheid, Brittany Koralewski and Teresa Fleming had scored one goal each. Jessica McLaughlin had eight saves. Brittany Honny and Melissa deJonckheere were both placed on the Women’s All State Tourney Team.

Long Beach City College was crowned 2006 COA Women’s State Water Polo Champions. We lost! After one of the most successful seasons in RCC water polo history, we were second place.

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