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Yucaipa girls water polo holds off Temescal Canyon to win Five Counties Tournament

Yucaipa girls water polo holds off Temescal Canyon to win Five Counties Tournament

RIVERSIDE >>> The Yucaipa girls water polo team had a rough start Saturday morning, allowing three goals in first six minutes. The Thunderbirds eventually settled in on defense, however, and allowed only seven more goals the rest of the day.

Yucaipa erased an early deficit and took down Murrieta Mesa 9-4 in a semifinal match of the Five Counties Tournament at Riverside Poly. The Thunderbirds then held off a late rally by Temescal Canyon to post a 5-4 win in the title match.

Yucaipa (15-2) allowed an average of four goals per match during the tournament. Freshman goalkeeper Christine Carpenter registered 13 saves in both matches Saturday.

“I’ve been fortunate to have coached some outstanding goalies in my days, and she is one of those,” Yucaipa coach Ty Hudson said. “We had a field player in goal last season, so we’ve been able to really flip things around defensively. Christine has been the backbone, and the team has really grown around her.”

Murrieta Mesa came out firing in the semifinal match and had a 3-1 lead after the opening quarter. Yucaipa drew even by halftime, and the T’Birds outscored Murrieta Mesa 5-0 in the second half. Ashlynn Ariza recorded a hat trick, and Caleigh Reynolds and Emma Parker each scored two goals to lead that comeback.

In the championship match, Callia Schell and Shea Tully each scored a goal to give Yucaipa a 2-0 lead after the first period. Temescal Canyon (9-5) cut the deficit in half in the second quarter, when Jozie Garcia beat Carpenter from seven meters out. Tully answered back and gave Yucaipa a 3-1 lead at halftime.

Temescal Canyon used a fourth-quarter rally to beat Vista Murrieta 9-8 in the semifinals, and the Titans were poised for another in the championship match. Jaycee Morris and Amanda Martilla each scored a goal, helping the Titans get within 4-3 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Schell gave Yucaipa the 5-3 lead a minute later, but Morris scored on a penalty shot with 1:16 remaining in the match.

“The way we train, we’ve built ourselves to be a strong fourth-quarter team,” Titans coach Mark Kuhn said. “If we can hang around, we can win at the end.”

Temescal Canyon had the chance to tie the score when it took possession with 26 seconds left on the clock. Yucaipa double-teamed Morris and kept an eye on Kaitlyn Crippen. Carpenter, who is a member of the USA Cadet National Team, blocked a shot by Reagan Elders to seal the victory.

“I think we communicated better with each other on defense and realized which players were the biggest threats,” Carpenter said about defensive turnaround from the first quarter of the day. “I think we have came pretty far as a team this season. We have bonded really well and that is showing with every match.”

Murrieta Mesa beat Vista Murrieta 11-8 in the third-place match. Valley View knocked off Citrus Valley 9-3 for fifth place, and Alta Loma edged Esperanza 7-6 for seventh place.

Press Enterprise