June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Northwood knocks off top seeded team to reach CIF finals for first time

Northwood players and coaches celebrate after Wednesday’s CIF semifinal victory. (Photo courtesy Northwood athletics).

Northwood High School’s girls water polo team is headed to the CIF playoffs for the first time in school history.

The Timberwolves advanced by defeating top-seeded Santiago Corona 10-9 in the semifinals Wednesday at Northwood.

Coach Kyle Kim-E’s Timberwolves (23-8) will face Rosary Academy (19-9) in the Division 4 final Saturday at 10:50 a.m. at Mt. San Antonio College.

“The furthest our girls program had advanced was second round of Division 4 in the 2019-2020 season,” Kim-E said. “To make the quarterfinals this year was the furthest we had been and now, it’s the championship.

“We knew that we were facing a very tough and well balanced Santiago team that would require a unique type of defense. I literally sketched a few ideas out on the whiteboard and we went through different scenarios of what we might expect. The girls worked hard over the last couple of days and this semifinal win over Santiago was testament to all of that effort. The girls played with a lot of confidence and never strayed from that system. It was one of our best games from start to finish.

“I’m really proud of these girls because we have consistently worked hard and we haven’t taken anything for granted. Most of these girls are returners from last year’s team, which didn’t qualify for the CIF playoffs. So, our team goal this season was to make the playoffs and to now have the opportunity to play for a CIF championship is every player’s dream.

“These girls have earned this opportunity and everyone is rightfully thrilled. But, I know that we are still not going to take anything for granted; we have one more game to plan for and we’re going to do everything we can to be as prepared as possible.” 

Senior Yoshi Elseifi had the game winning goal Wednesday for Northwood on a backhand shot and finished with four goals and five steals. Santiago had outscored its previous three opponents

Junior Tiara Schechinger had two goals, three assists and one steal; junior Audrey Mariano had two goals, three assists and two steals; junior Nina Elias had one goal, one assist and one steal; freshman Riddhi Gautam had a goal and a steal and freshman goalkeeper Cassidy McCallon had seven saves.

Rosary Academy, the Trinity League at-large team, advanced to the finals with a 17-6 victory over Los Osos Wednesday.

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