LIVERMORE – Saturday's 2021 CCCAA Women's Water Polo State Championship Game featured a battle of No. 1 seeds in SBCC and West Valley, who competed for the fourth time in less than three months. In their closest, most competitive meeting yet, it was the Vikings who came away with the slim one-goal victory, breaking a deadlock in the fourth quarter to come away with a 6-5 win.
"Talk about a team that never gives up," head coach Chuckie Roth said. "The first three minutes were not the best of the season, but we quickly responded with an amazing game. Super proud of this team's grit. Congrats to West Valley. I think we played a very great game."
West Valley (32-2) got out to a hot start, taking a 3-0 lead by the 5:05 mark of the opening period. Resilient as they have been all season, the Vaqueros (30-7) fired back with three unanswered goals of their own. Emily Clapham scored first with 3:41 to go in the first quarter. Jenna Olson and Charlize Winter added goals in the the second quarter to tie it at 3-3.
The Vikings would take two more one-goal leads before the fourth quarter, and both times, SBCC fought back to even things. Ensley Letterman made it 4-4 in the opening minute of the second half. Winter put away another equalizer with 6:51 remaining in the game, bringing it level at 5-5.
Despite a heroic performance from goalkeeper Chloe McKay, who tied a season-high with 13 saves, West Valley's Johanna Scheer tucked away the game-winner with 5:49 to go.
The final goal capped off Santa Barbara's third state championship appearance since 2016. Following a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vaqueros picked up right where they left off, winning at least 30 games for the fifth straight season. Over that stretch, no Vaquero has had more saves than the 302 that Mckay tallied this season.
Eden Tal ends the year as the Vaqueros' leading scorer with 75 goals. The clutch play of Jenna Olson all year long saw her score 57 times. Charlize Winter (49) and Megan Ditlof (44) also crossed the 40-goal mark.