May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Northwood girls water polo team looking to capture first PCL championship

Northwood’s girls water polo team is off to a great start. (Photo courtesy Northwood water polo, For OC Sports Zone)

Northwood’s girls water polo team is off to a great start.

The Timberwolves finished third in the Ocean View Tournament this past weekend and also are currently in first place in the Pacific Coast League. 

The Timberwolves have an overall record of 16-8 (5-1 in league).

Freshman newcomer Valerie Wraith has been dominant this season with a team high 93 goals. More impressively, she has missed five games, which means her per game average is almost five goals.

Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Sanjana Venkatesh has returned in the goal with 212 saves (11.2 average for five games missed because of an illness). Her leadership both in and out of the water encouraged Coach Kyle Kim-E to elect her as one of the team’s captains.

Senior co-captains (two of only three seniors on Northwood’s varsity roster), Hannah Miller and Sarah Buting, have also greatly contributed with the offensive attack. Miller is second on the team in goals (40), while Buting is third with 26. 

Northwood’s young team also includes freshman newcomer Ella-Blue Wilmot who leads the team in assists (78), sophomore Kaitlyn Kong, junior Emilie Harper, sophomore Ainsley Zapata, senior Sophie Smith, and sophmore Lauren Nguyen who leads the team in steals (42).

Thec Timberwolves finished the weekend with upset wins over Division No. 2 Edison and Division 4 No. 8 San Juan Hills to claim third place at the Ocean View Tournament. The wins should solidify a spot in the top ten ranking this week for CIF Division 4.

The Timberwolves finish up league play with games vs. Woodbridge Tuesday at Wodbridge, Portola Thursday at home, Tuesday, Feb. 3 at home vs. Irvine and Thursday, Feb. 5 at Beckman.

If the Timberwolves are able to secure three wins within their next four games, they will claim the Pacific Coast League title for the first time in Northwood girls water polo history, Kim-E said.

“We have a very impressive pair of newcomers in Valerie Wraith and Ella-Blue Wilmot,” the coach said. “It took some time to fine tune our new offensive strategy but it has led to a significant increase in goals, which is largely due to Valerie’s scoring ability and Blue’s passing abilities. 

“We have an equally impressive and young squad of returners that were part of our first CIF-SS team in nearly a decade. They put in a lot of hard work during the off-season and returned stronger, faster, and more experienced. It also helps that I have two, hard-working and experienced senior captains in Hannah and Sarah.

“They have been great leaders both in and out of the water, which makes coaching a lot easier. As a coach, I’m extremely proud of the entire team for everything that they have accomplished thus far. They have put in a lot of hard work and the results are starting to show.

“We have a good chance of bringing home a league championship for the first time in Northwood girls water polo history, but we aren’t overlooking anyone. We have been playing some good water polo lately, but we need to stay focused in our training and need to execute in the upcoming games. Win or lose, our main goal is to consistently play well and to remain mentally tough even in tiresome situations.”