The Palo Alto High School girls’ water polo team (14-16, 4-8) concluded its season with a loss to Leland High School in the second round of the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs on Nov. 5 at a neutral location.
After edging out Menlo-Atherton in the first round of the CCS tournament by a score of 9-6, the Vikings fell to the Leland Chargers by a score of 15-8 in the following round.
However, according to senior field player Haley Chalmers, the Vikings are reflective of their season and have taken the time to appreciate the highlights of their year.
“We grew a lot as a team and ended up doing better than we all anticipated,” Chalmers said. “It was definitely a growing experience, but we all came together well by the end of the season. I would have to say that the highlight of the season was beating Menlo-Atherton at the beginning of the CCS tournament because it was a super close game, and we lost to them at the beginning of our season.”
Senior goalkeeper Joanna Falla was in accordance with Chalmers’ thoughts.
“It was definitely a growing year for the team and I’m incredibly excited to see how the team does next year,” Falla said. “This season has been an incredible experience, and it was amazing to see the team chemistry build throughout the games and practices.”
Junior field player Talia Stanley also voiced her gratitude for the seniors on the team.
“Although we had some losses here and there, the season was incredibly fun and I took it as an opportunity to learn and develop my game,” Stanley said. “The seniors on the team are great because they were vocal in telling us what to do or to not do, and because of that, the team communication really improved.”
Falla said she is bittersweet about leaving the team next year and she gave her departing thoughts on the team.
“I’m pretty sentimental about leaving the team,” Falla said. “I had never played water polo before high school, so leaving definitely is hard. The team is full of amazing, hilarious girls, and that’s probably what I’ll miss most. I have complete faith that the team will do just as well, if not better, next season. Next season, I’m expecting [junior field player] Sabrina Hall, [freshman field player] Chesnie Cheung and Talia Stanley to make some great plays; but I truly think that everyone will be integral to the team.”
Chalmers expressed similar sentiments as Falla, and praised newcomer freshman Chesnie Cheung.
“I am pretty sad about leaving this team – we really grew this season and I know they are going to do really well next year,” Chalmers said. “I think that the juniors will be great leaders next year, and we have a pretty young team so there’s a lot of potential there. I think one of our younger players, Cheung, really stood out this year. It was her first year ever playing water polo, and ended up being one of the starters and our strongest players.”
The girls’ water polo team hopes to return with a vengeance next autumn, according to Stanley.
“We will continue to practice and improve, and next year, we hope to make it farther in the postseason to win the CCS championship,” Stanley said.