Girls’ water polo optimistic after early season win

Ryan Wisowaty, Editor-in-Chief

Junior Hana Erickson takes a shot against the Homestead Mustangs at a home game on Thursday. The 11-7 win for the Palo Alto High School girls’ water polo team set an optimistic tone for the rest of the season. “We’ve always been the bottom two in our league, so I think this is a really exciting start to our season,” Erickson said. Photo: Ryan Wisowaty

After thundering past the Homestead Mustangs (0-2) on Thursday, the Palo Alto High School Viking girls’ water polo team (1-0) is optimistic for a strong season.

In their first league matchup of the season, the Vikings — playing on home turf — out-scored the Mustangs, 11-7, ending a fast-paced and hard-fought game that reversed four years of Mustang dominance over the Vikings during the regular season.

However, even as the Vikings scored two early goals within the first few minutes, the Mustangs were quick to recover, staying within one goal of the Vikings for much of the first half.

“Our defense was good,” Stotland said. “There was a ton of energy behind it, but it was a little too chaotic and we weren’t communicating well. Once we settled down a little bit but played with the same level of aggression, our defense created a lot of opportunities.”

The Vikings also came prepared, as they had faced off against Homestead earlier in the season in an out-of-league tournament game. The Vikings were quick to learn the Mustang’s offense from their previous matchup and brought the knowledge of the Mustang’s tactics with them to the pool.

“We had three players we were definitely going to keep an eye out for,” junior Hana Erickson said. “One of them, it was like that was their glue. When she was playing good, they all played good. We learned very fast in our last game that if we frustrated her, it all fell apart.”

As the Vikings tightened up their own strategies and exploited their opponents, the team was able to pull away from their opponents and maintain a four-goal lead. 

Even with the win, the Vikings are not losing sight of the rest of the season.

“We have got to work on our shooting,” Stotland said. “We had a lot of good opportunities. We shot a lot of balls that hit the crossbar, and we shot a lot of balls that I think we can make.”

The Vikings continue their season with a home game against Mountain View Thursday.