Enterprise staff writer
The Davis High girls water polo team proved Thursday that strong defense can be worth more than just keeping the opposing team off the scoreboard.
The Blue Devils forced 14 turnovers against Buchanan, eight of which led directly to goals, in a 19-2 rout of the Bears at Schaal Aquatics Center on the UC Davis campus. Elsie Fullerton led DHS with five goals, while Keelia Houston poured in four more as the team geared up for the Davis Fall Classic Jamboree, also at Schaal today and Saturday.
ÒWe were really effective tonight offensively and we shot the ball well,Ó Devils head coach Doug Wright said. ÒThe girls really have confidence playing in this pool because this is where they play all summer.Ó
Buchanan is also participating in the Jamboree and faced a three-hour drive up to Davis for the tournament, meaning the earliest the team could play today would be around 11 a.m. So the Bears decided to come up early and get an extra game in.
But this one was all Blue Devils from the start.
Inadvertently playing an eight-minute first quarter Ñ college rules Ñ rather than the normal seven, DHS opened the scoring just past the three-minute mark. HoustonÕs pressure in the middle of the pool paid off as she got the steal and the breakaway goal.
A minute later, the Blue Devils (17-1) showed how quickly they could go end-to-end. Goalkeeper Taylor Leuschen saved a Bears shot and threw ahead to Houston, who did the rest in doubling the Blue Devil lead. Another steal 30 seconds later led to Hanna Levien assisting Michelle Greenough.
DHS made it 4-0 with eight seconds left in the quarter Ñ a goal that wouldnÕt have happened in a seven-minute period Ñ as Fullerton recorded her first goal.Ó
ÒElsie was freakish tonight,Ó Wright said. ÒShe was a force out there and really got it done.Ó
The Blue Devils didnÕt take their foot off the pedal in the second quarter, with Zoe Malot scoring twice and Fullerton once on the teamÕs first four possessions. After Fullerton made it 8-0, Houston provided the nine-goal halftime advantage scoring with 28 ticks left.
Though Houston and Fullerton did the bulk of the scoring, the Blue Devils did spread the wealth around.
Hailey Wright tallied the first of two midway through the third quarter while Rachel Brooks, Levien, Darcy Soga and Rachel Johnson all found the back of the net in the fourth. In all, nine different Blue Devils scored while three more Ñ goalkeepers Leuschen and Haley Cameron as well as Kaitlyn Dawson Ñ added an assist each.
Wright said he doesnÕt like to single out any of his girls during games but made an exception on Thursday.
ÒMichelle Greenough played really well,Ó the head coach said. ÒThis was one of her best defensive efforts and she had a lot of steals. Everybody did a great job tonight.Ó
The Blue Devils will play four games during the Jamboree, taking on Leland (10 a.m.) and Acalanes (6 p.m.) today and Menlo Atherton (11 a.m.) and Los Altos (4 p.m.) on Saturday.
Other teams participating in the event include Clovis West, St. Francis of Sacramento, Sacred Heart Prep and Marin Catholic.
ÒTheyÕre all games that if we play our best, we should be able to win, but none of the teams are going to roll over for us,Ó Wright said. ÒWe havenÕt played any of the four, which will be good for us.Ó
Notes: Leuschen and Cameron made three saves apiece. … The Blue Devils outshot the Bears 34-13 in the game. … Both Wright and his older brother Jamey Ñ the UCD womenÕs head coach Ñ are alums of Menlo Atherton High.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8049. Comment on this story or check out The Enterprise sports blog at www.davisenterprise.com