YUCAIPA – The Yucaipa girls’ water polo team has been on the CIF Southern Section Division 2 rankings this season. And being the No. 2 team on those rankings has not gone down well with the Thunderbirds.
Yucaipa had a chance to change that Tuesday night as they faced the undefeated Glendora team that has held No. 1 on the rankings for two consecutive weeks. and the Thunderbirds quickly turned the showdown into a beatdown.
Yucaipa’s swell defense combined with its movement in the attack resulted in an 18-3 victory at Crafton Hills College.
“We were definitely looking to send a message,” said senior Shea Tully, who noted a match-high five goals. “We do not like to be considered second to none and we wanted to get out here tonight and prove a point.”
And it did not take long before Tully and company got through. Tully got her hat-trick in the first 5 1/2 minutes and Isabella Landeros scored twice to help Yucaipa take a 5-1 lead after a period. Glendora (10-1) struggled to get shots off early. And when the Tartars fired a shot at the cage, it was hard to get anything from Yucaipa junior goalkeeper Christine Carpenter.
Carpenter, who is a member of the U.S. Water Polo Cadet National Team, finished with 18 saves.
“Getting off to a good start was one of our big goals tonight,” Carpenter said. “We wanted to show that we could not only beat this team, we could dominate. This is our home pool and we wanted to play our best.”
Yucaipa (6-4) used the counterattack to score more goals, and drives led to a handful of power plays and penalty kicks.
“I think we played pretty well overall,” Yucaipa coach Ty Hudson said. “I think our experience this year has been very important to us. The coherence and teamwork in the water is much better and I think it shows.”
Brooklyn Wagner, Tully, Jerzie Jaurigue and Sammi Byers each scored a goal in the second quarter to help the Thunderbirds extend their lead to 9-2 at the break. Yucaipa did not give up in the second half, adding four goals in the third quarter and five in the final period to end an impressive offensive performance.
Byers scored three goals, while Wagner, Jaurigue, Landeros and Piper Shaffer each finished with two goals in the match.
“Our movement will be the key,” Tully said. “We know we are strong defensively, but we also need to get the job done on the offensive.”
Anika Nichols scored two goals for Glendora, and Hailey Andress scored the second goal for the Tartans.
Hudson believes his schedule was a major reason for Tuesday’s result. Yucaipa was scheduled to attend the prestigious Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara last week, but the event had to be canceled due to COVID-related issues. Hudson and Yucaipa sporting director Matt Carpenter put up matches against Division 1 powerhouses Harvard-Westlake and Corona del Mar, and the Thunderbirds also got into a rematch against King, another Division 1 team, last week.
And while Yucaipa lost all three games, Hudson believes the experiences served his team well.
“That was my goal this year. I wanted every non-league game to really matter, because you just don’t get better with a lot of blowouts,” Hudson said. “We want to learn something every game to become a better team. ”
Yucaipa is almost certain to take over No. 1 spot in the Division 2 rankings next week.
“We know other teams are watching and will look to beat us,” Tully said. “That means we have to train so much harder to make sure it doesn’t happen.”