SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Santa Barbara City College needed just four years to reach the pinnacle of community college water polo, winning its first-ever California Community College Athletic Association Women's Water Polo Championship with an 8-6 win on Saturday over Sierra College, which made history for its program with its inaugural championship appearance.
The victory at Cuesta College capped a spectacular 31-3 season for the Vaqueros who rode three goals and three assists from tournament MVP Emma Fraser to turn back the Wolverines who received its six goals from six different players. Sierra ended its strong season with a 25-6 while becoming the first Northern California team to advance to the state championship in 10 years.
"When I started this program four years ago, I never thought this was going to happen," said Santa Barbara head coach Chuckie Roth, who earned his 100th career win with Friday's 11-7 semifinal win over San Joaquin Delta. "It's a testament to these young women. They wanted it and they practiced incredibly hard... I'm lucky to be along and I'm lucky to coach each one of them.
The Vaqueros looked like they were going to run away and hide after goals by Kemi Dijkstra, Sarah Parson and Kelee Schimizu staked them to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. But Amber Hellickson answered Schimizu's score with one of her own just 17 seconds later to make it 3-1 going into the second quarter.
Rory Nuuhiva and Alexandria Jasso each scored for the Wolverines in the second period that each time got them back to within a goal of Santa Barbara and helped cut the lead to just 4-3 at halftime. Alexa Negrete's goal barely 15 seconds into the second half knotted the game for Sierra but Fraser and Tori Bray found the back of the net and Halie Johnson scored one as well as the Vaqueros built a 7-4 advantage midway through the quarter.
Stephanie Friesen and Shanta Reisinger wouldn't let Sierra go away quietly, connecting on goals just 26 seconds apart to bring Sierra to within just 7-6. But Fraser put away her fifth goal of the game and it proved to be vital as the Vaqueros went up 8-6 with just over a minute to go.
Meghan Hayward added Sierra's remaining goal while Danielle Brown had seven saves in the cage. Nicole Poulos posted six saves for Santa Barbara City.
MVP - Emma Fraser (Santa Barbara CIty)
Meagan Mckillican (Santa Barbara City)
Halie Johnson (Santa Barbara City)
Danielle Brown (Sierra)
Alexa Negrete (Sierra)
Anay Ramirez (Riverside City)
Alyssa Anderson (San Joaquin Delta)