Both Newman Water Polo Teams Advance to Conference Championship
The Cardinal Newman Water Polo Program won big on Tuesday with both their men's and women's teams winning in the VVAL Championship Semifinals. Both teams got the 1 seed in their respective brackets, but faced a tough road ahead. The boys team had to face a very good 15-8 Napa team that had given them a tough test a week ago at Napa Valley College, with the Cardinals winning 17-14. The girls team faced a tough opponent in American Canyon, a team that the Cardinals had split the regular season series with. The Wolves had beaten the Cardinals at the Santa Rosa Junior College in a very close game that was decided by penalty shots. The Cardinals then beat the Wolves at American Canyon High School in another close game to set up a must watch VVAL playoff game. Vintage's program had won both their playoff games in the men's and women's brackets setting up technical home games for both their men's and women's teams on Thursday as the championships are being played at Vintage High School.
The Newman Men's team played first, getting off to a quick start, leading 3-1 after the 1st. The Cardinals had a clean 2nd Quarter, tacking on 5 goals with it, to lead 8-1 at half. The Cardinals were strong defensively throughout the game, a theme that has been consistent all season, with goalies Mason Ballard and Rocco Smith combining for 15 saves and only allowing 5 goals, helping the Cardinals capture a 13-5 win. "We knew they weren’t going to give the win to us. We were prepared to take it", Smith said after his great 10 save performance. Brody Hansel had 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 steals and a field block. Mathias McCarthy also had 3 goals and pitched in 4 assists and 3 steals. McCarthy said this postgame, "We went out their and took care of business like always." His brother, freshman star Tomas, also had 3 goals and an assist. Kameron Guttorsmen also had 2 goals and 3 assists in the win. Head Coach Alfredo De La Mora had this to say about the win, "We stuck to what's been working for us all season and playing great defense allowed us to be patient and productive on offense." De La Mora, in his first year, has brought the Cardinals to their first VVAL Championship since 2019 with a very young team. With only one senior, the Cardinals seem like they have a good team that is only getting better and will be a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come.
The Newman girls team also had a fantastic defensive performance and got off to a very fast start, leading 6-2 after the first quarter. Both teams traded goals in the 2nd, with Newman up 7-3 at half. The Wolves started the second half hot, shutting out Newman in the 3rd Quarter and scoring 3 goals. Alex Loxley had a great save on a 5 meter penalty shot to keep Newman's lead alive in the 3rd. She had 13 saves and a steal en route to Newman's big win. The Cardinals were able to pull away in the 4th and win 9-7 to advance to the championship. Abby Smits had 4 goals, 3 steals and an assist for the Cardinals in the win. Smits had this to say postgame about the great CN girls team performance, "I think we all worked together well and it really showed in the end." Lydia Cunningham had 3 goals and Katie Grant added 2 goals along with 4 assists. Hannah Bickel had 5 assists and a steal and had this to say postgame, "When we all work together we can accomplish anything and it really is beautiful. I went into that game knowing exactly who we are and what we can and will do... American Canyon was not ready to give up the win to us. In the end, however, we pulled it out. I am so proud of the whole team; the way we played that game will get us not only to championships, but to NCS." Coach De La Mora had this to say about the Newman girls performance, "The girls showed discipline being able to stay composed after AC made a run. Their confidence in the team and each other helped us stay in the lead."
The Cardinal boys will play at 5 PM and the girls will play at 6 PM on Thursday in Napa at Vintage High School for the VVAL Championship.