June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Alta Loma takes control early against Sunny Hills and captures CIF Division 2 title

Sunny Hills players with the CIF runner-up plaque after Saturday’s CIF Division 2 finals. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Sunny Hills girls water polo team made a run in the third quarter to get back into the game, but Alta Loma regrouped and went on to capture an 11-8 victory Saturday morning in the CIF Division 2 final at Mt. San Antonio College.

Alta Loma (21-9) led 4-1 after one quarter and extended the lead to 5-1 early in the second quarter.

“I felt like we started a little slow and what can you do, you can’t get down 5-1 but I thought we played courageously, I was happy with that and happy with the effort,” said Sunny Hills Coach Keith Nighswonger. “I think after we were down 5-1, I think we outscored them by a couple of goals the rest of the way. We hit a lot of goalposts in that second half.”

It was the second consecutive appearance in a CIF final for Sunny Hills, which lost to JSerra 13-5 in the Division 3 final last year.

Alta Loma held a 6-3 lead at halftime but the Lancers got close in the third quarter on goals by Lauren Jacobsen and Hannah Reekstin. Alta Loma held off Sunny Hills in the fourth quarter and moved ahead 11-7 on a goal by Carly Berzins with 3:47 left.

It was the second straight CIF title for Alta Loma, which captured the Division 4 title last year.

“It’s an incredible task, we had a lot of seniors last year, so this is awesome,” said Alta Loma Coach Kristin Rodriguez. “

Berzins was the leading scorer in the match with five goals.

“She’s an incredible athlete, it’s crazy because she has so much more that she hasn’t even tapped into,” Rodriguez said.

Reekstin led Sunny Hills (25-8) with four goals.

“Hannah has been a solid player all year, it’s really nice to see her exploded like that in a big game,” Nighswonger said.

Both teams move on to the CIF Southern California regionals next week.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com