During a late timeout, Marin Academy’s Cece Dickinson called for “one more goal.” Seconds later, teammate Hannah Reichley launched a shot into the back of the net to help clinch the Wildcats’ ticket to their first North Coast Section girls water polo championship game.
Marin Academy is heading into Saturday’s title game with confidence and momentum after Wednesday’s 11-10 victory in the NCS Division II semifinals over fifth-seeded Marin Catholic.
“I’m excited. We’ve never done this before,” Reichley said. “This is an exciting time for us.”
Marin Academy might not have to leave the friendly confines of its own aquatic center in San Rafael, as the top-seeded Wildcats are likely to host Saturday’s game against Tam. The seventh-seeded Red-tailed Hawks rolled past No. 6 Encinal 9-2 in the other semifinal.
Elle Parisi led Marin Academy with three goals, while Reichley and Brooke Bent added two goals each. Lauren Reagan, Gabby Reichley, Reina Buchanan and Iris Weiner each scored once. Goalkeeper Caroline Starrett turned back 11 shots from Marin Catholic.
“We played Marin Academy two times before and this time we hoped we’d fully execute our offense and defense,” said Marin Catholic senior Claire Cassidy, who scored a game-high four goals. “We worked hard and we didn’t go down without a fight.”
Anya Jaroszewski scored three goals for Marin Catholic, which got two more from Emma Slaught and one from Amelia Kiriakis. Goalkeeper Kiki Jaroszewski had 11 saves.
Unlike their two previous head-to-head matchups this season, this game went down to the wire. Marin Academy handily defeated Marin Catholic in their two previous meetings this season, 12-6 and 14-7.
“(Marin Catholic coach Sophie Doyle), Claire (Cassidy) and Emma (Slaught) are all so tough,” Marin Academy co-coach Jamie Collie said. “We knew they would give us a tough game. This was the payoff for going to Modesto and other big tournaments. This is not the first close game with a good team we’ve played.”
Marin Academy built a 3-1 lead in the first period, but Marin Catholic with a few new wrinkles to its offense, came back to tie the score 3-3 late in the second period as Anya Jaroszewski’s shot found a lane through traffic to the back of the net.
From there on, the game was a seesaw battle, although Marin Academy never trailed. Marin Catholic fought to tie the score three more times. Marin Catholic’s Cassidy powered the ball in to equal the score at 9-9 in the final two minutes of the game.
“At no point in the second half did the girls feel scared,” Collie said of his team. “The girls were calm and poised and excited to win.”
Bent came back 15 seconds later with an alley-oop shot that landed in the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. Reichley’s goal nearly a minute later gave Marin Academy the breathing room it needed, although Cassidy cut the margin to just one goal with her score in the waning seconds of the game.
Top-seeded Marin Academy was on its heels from the start as a powerful Piedmont squad came to San Rafael Wednesday determined to upset the Wildcats and did so in a 13-9 victory. Piedmont built a 4-2 lead in the first period, before going on a 5-0 run in the second quarter.
Tucker Byrne led the Wildcats with four goals, who also received one goal each from Rainer Lovato, Schuyler Rewick, Justin Tachiki and Noah Hirson.
Marin will be without a representative in the D-II final as No. 2 Novato also lost at home, 11-8 against No. 3 Alameda on Tuesday night.
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