Artists (22-6) about an hour after thumping Brea Olinda, 13-2, in
Tuesday's quarterfinals. CdM Coach John Vargas hoped to gain any
advantage he could against a Laguna Beach squad that has already defeated
the Sea Kings twice this season.
Laguna Beach, which shared the PCL crown with CdM and University, then
lost a coin flip to become the league's third-place representative,
technically denying it a top-four seed, beat CdM, 3-2, in a Dec. 29
Holiday Cup tournament game at at the Sea Kings' pool. The Artists then
earned a 9-6 triumph in the PCL opener, Jan. 10 at home.
CdM, however, was without sophomore standout Christina Hewko for the
league meeting and, Vargas believes, it is playing its best water polo of
the season right now.
"I think we're peaking at the right time," said Vargas, who commended
his team's focus, determination and defense after defeating its first two
playoff foes by a combined 29-2.
Vargas said his squad, which lost in last year's Division IV title
game, 7-4 to Santa Margarita, will need to reach an even higher level to
advance to Monday's championship game.
"The first two (Laguna) matches, I thought both teams played well,"
Vargas said. "I was pleased with the way we were playing at the time, but
Laguna Beach just beat us, plain and simple.
"We're seeded first by virtue of a coin flip (Laguna Beach was ranked
No. 1 in the final CIF Division IV poll), and they beat us twice, fair
and square. I see us as a little bit of an underdog."
Coach Rick Scott's Artists defeated Katella, 13-4, in the first round,
then got past Peninsula, 7-6, in Tuesday's quarterfinals.
They are paced by twin sisters Teresa and Tina Codini.
CdM is led by sophomores Danielle Carlson and Hewko, both of whom were
first-team All-CIF Division IV choices a year ago. Carlson leads the team
with 76 goals and has also contributed 80 steals. Hewko has 61 goals, a
team-best 100 steals and also leads the squad with 29 assists.
Senior co-captain Lindsey Daley has 37 goals, while sophomores
Brittany Bowlus (23) and Daniela DiGiacomo (13) have also been offensive
Junior Jessica Wells anchors the CdM defense in goal. She has 11 of
her 148 saves in the playoffs.
Today's winner will meet either No. 2-seeded University (16-12) or El
Dorado (15-10) Monday at 6 p.m. at Belmont Plaza.