Published October 19th, 2016
Girls Water Polo Teams in Top Form as NCS Action Awaits
By Karl Buscheck
Kari Jensen
There's a simple expression that explains the success of the Campolindo girls water polo squad.

"This team has done an all-around great job of (being) 'team first, self-last,'" said head coach Kim Everist, whose Cougars own a 13-3 record overall (2-0 in league). "I have been very proud of all of the players on this team."

Campolindo, which hosts the Mats on Oct. 19 at the Soda Center in Moraga, counts on a host of players both in and out of the pool.

"As with any team we have our standouts," Everist said. "(Senior) Olivia Price has had a tremendous year, along with (senior) Kari Jensen and (junior) Katie Klein. (Senior) Becca Buck is the backbone of our defense."

Everist pointed to senior Carlie Crumbaugh and sophomore Christina Crum as players who have stepped into bigger roles for the Cougars, while describing junior Erin Neustrom as the team's "vocal leader" and applauding sophomore Jessica Henningsen and junior Karina Nugent for their leadership skills.

As Campolindo battles for the top position in the DAL standings and prepares for NCS play, which begins on Nov. 3, the Mats stand out as one of their fiercest competitors.

"I would say we're right on track to where we want to be," said head coach Noel Murphy, who went out of his way to praise the program's JV team, which won the Crusher Classic in Napa. "We're improving every game and everyone's getting involved."

Senior captains Charlotte Curran and Kylie Morrision have been instrumental for the Mats, as they roll through the schedule with a 13-3 record (2-0 in league).

"It's a team sport. We win as a team and we lose as a team," Murphy said. "And those two captains are providing very good leadership and the end result is a very cohesive, well-producing machine."

Co-coach John Felix has also been indispensable for the Mats.

"He's been doing a stupendous job getting these girls ready for the arduous season," Murphy said.

That season ends - at least the league portion - with the showdown at Campo on Oct. 19 and then the home game against Acalanes on Oct. 26.

"Anything can happen in rivalry games," Murphy warned. "I mean, really. You might have a superior team and all of a sudden that rivalry comes into play and it changes the dynamics of everything.

"It's like the Dodger-Giants rivalry - everything's out the door," he added.

With that matchup looming, Acalanes head coach Misha Buchel has been impressed by the growth of his youthful team over the course of the season.

"We were super young but I think we've made a lot of progress," Buchel said of his Dons team, which has a 10-7 record (0-2 in league).

For Acalanes, the greatest strength has been the team's spine. Junior goalie Ella Maisano has been a steadying force, making a habit of bailing out the defense and making big defensive stops. Maisano has received plenty of support from junior center defender Bella Wentzel, whose strong play takes pressure off the rest of the back line.

On the offensive end, sophomore Lexi Rowell has been the star, consistently drawing double teams from the opposition and opening up space for the rest of the attack.

With that trio setting the tone, the Dons are moving in the right direction as the league season

"We're competitive, we're in the game," Buchel said. "We're (still improving) on the offensive end, but defensively, we're pretty tough."

Ella Maisano Photos Gint Federas

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