Recap: Paly girls’ water polo defeats Los Altos in close call

Nika Woodfill, Author

Junior Katie Francis prepares to shoot. Her goal in the fourth quarter led the  Vikings to victory. Photo by Nika Woodfill
Junior Katie Francis prepares to shoot. Her goal in the fourth quarter against the Los Altos Eagles led the Vikings to a 3-2 victory. This is the team’s fourth league win of the season.  Photo by Nika Woodfill.

The Palo Alto High School girls’ water polo team (9-4, 4-1) defeated the Los Altos High School Eagles (4-6, 2-4) 3-2, after an intense battle at home on Thursday.

The game’s crucial  moment came in the fourth quarter when junior Alina Drebin scored a bar-in cross-cage goal from the eight meter mark. The goal tied up the game 2-2 and helped give the Vikings the defining push they  needed to overcome the players’ fatigue. This would give them the upper hand that would lead to their victory.

The game commenced with an almost immediate temporary ejection of Junior Gigi Rojahn, giving Los Altos a six on five advantage.  Playing a man up, Los Altos scored the first goal of the match coming from an unmarked Eagle on the right post.

The Vikings came back determined in the second half with the score at 1-0. Rojahn won the sprint to start the third quarter, portraying the team’s new found confidence. Half-way through the third quarter, sophomore Izzy Kelly passed to Rojahn, who shot an unstoppable goal into the upper left net from outside the five meter mark, making the score 1-1.

From this point on the game was close. Los Altos’ speedy counterattacks fiercely combated Paly’s determined defense. Both Drebin and Van Hulsen kept Paly defense in check, staying aggressive throughout the game.

“We had solid team defense,” Paly head coach Aileen Delaney said. “ We showed great teamwork on both ends and really showed our mental toughness.”

However, the team still has room for improvement, according to Rojahn.

“We could get a lot more movement on offense and get back quickly on counter attacks.” Rojahn said. “We also need more confidence to shoot.”

This is the first time Paly has played Los Altos since losing to the team in the first round of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League tournament, 8-4.

The Vikings are set to play their next game at  at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday against Saratoga High School at Saratoga.