When adversity kicked in for the Garces girls water polo team on Saturday, there was no lack of confidence in the Rams.
In the Central Section Division II championships at home at the Salvucci Aquatics Center, the top-seeded Rams defeated No. 2 Porterville-Monache 15-8, outscoring the Marauders 8-2 in the second half.
“We’ve got just one senior, some juniors and a bunch of sophomore and freshmen,” Garces coach Jason Gall said. “We are going to continue to get better and better. We’ve got a really good core group of young kids.”
Garces beat Monache both times in East Yosemite League play, but Gall knew the third time would be the hardest.
After Garces took a 5-2 lead on a goal by Isabella Garcia with 5:20 left in the first half, Monache scored three consecutive to tie it up.
But with a season full of tough out-of-region tournaments all year testing the will and strength of the Rams, that adversity learned is what the team was able to lean on after the half on Saturday.
“It boosted our ego and that is really what helped us through all of this,” Garces sophomore Logan Wimbish said. “We were so confident through all of this. We had the conditioning and trusted in each other. “It’s huge. I dreamed of this. This is amazing.”
This is the second section championship for Garces and first since 2014.
Junior Ellie Waguespack had seven saves as Wimbish and freshman Abby Schechter both scored five goals each.
“This means everything. I have been in town here for 13 years coaching water polo at all ages and levels,” Gall said. “To see this turn into a Valley championship is fantastic.”
Sophomore Bella Negre added three goals, including two in the last two minutes of the first half and junior Isabella Garcia.
The senior season for Mia Sill will continue into the CIF regional playoffs that begin on Tuesday. The brackets will be released on Sunday morning and likely will be at least a first round game for the Rams.
“We don’t really talk too much about the regionals during the regular season because this is our main focus,” Gall said. “We are looking forward to playing more water polo and seeing how we do.”