An emotional Senior Night celebration before the contest gave way to a slugfest of a water polo game on Thursday at Arroyo Pool.
When it was all over, the Davis High girls had defeated Rio Americano, 10-5, to improved to 4-0 in Delta Valley Conference play and 17-7 overall.
Before the game, Blue Devil seniors Lauren Owens, Haley Blackwell, Heather Johnson and Monica Ferrera were each presented with a bouquet of flowers and a signed card from the team. DHS head coach Doug Wright had kind words for each player before the match, then put all four in his starting lineup.
“Haley Blackwell and Monica Ferrera don’t usually start,” Wright told The Enterprise. “But they both did (Thursday), they played most of the first quarter. They played outstanding. They really did a good job.”
But it was the Raiders, who drew first blood in the game, scoring with 4:55 left in the first quarter. The Devils quickly responded, as Johnson found the net with 3:09 left to kick-start a five-goal run for Davis. Junior Mara Dominguez converted on two 5-meter penalty shots, Johnson added another goal and sophomore Kinsey van Deynze also put one in the net during the early spurt.
Johnson finished her Senior Night with a hat trick, while Owens had a goal and an assist, and contributed excellent defense, coming up with three steals.
“I think the seniors really wanted to do well,” Wright said. “It’s hard because you’re trying to balance emotions with trying to play a precision offense, but I thought Heather came up big, hit some big shots. Lauren played well too. They both played great.”
Several Blue Devils had strong games as Dominguez finished with a team-high four goals, to go along with two assists and a couple of steals. Goalie Mattie Lilliedoll played well in front of the net, making a couple tough saves and sophomore Kendall Doten had several steals and added a goal to complete the scoring.
Junior Colby Stapleton may not have scored for DHS, but her impact was huge as she was tasked with defending Rio standout Celeste Brown. The two are familiar with each other from club water polo and Stapleton did well defending Brown on Thursday.
“It’s really tough (for Colby), because she always gets the toughest assignment,” Wright said. “(Brown) plays on our club team … and Colby had to match up with her. It’s a really physical situation, but I thought she did a great job of stepping up and dealing with a difficult player to guard.”
That physicality was present all over the pool as both squads really hammered away at each other. Tempers flared multiple times, and both coaches expressed displeasure with the referees during the game.
It could be a similar situation the next tome the Devils take the pool as they travel to Sacramento for a matchup with rival St. Francis (13-8, 4-0). The winner of that Tuesday matchup will clinch first place in the DVC, and Wright is expecting a tough battle:
“They’re going to come in with a lot of energy, and we’re playing at their pool. It’s an emotional game, it’s a league championship game, so it’s one of those games that (will be tough). I think we can win if we play well.”
— Reach Spencer Ault at email@example.com