Girls water polo: Team braves tough loss against Santa Clara HS


Ruth Feng

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 20, the MVHS girls water polo team jumped in the pool to warm up before facing an undefeated Santa Clara HS team. MVHS had both won and lost a game against SCHS last season. Despite this, the team headed into the game with a carefree mindset.

The game started off with strong defense from both teams. For a while, MVHS and SCHS rallied back and forth until MVHS senior Shannon Reid made the first shot, but SCHS tied the game shortly after to make it 1-1. At the very last second of the quarter, a strong SCHS shooter made a shot from across the pool. MVHS trailed at halftime 2-1.

Shannon Reid #8 defends the ball against SCHS
Shannon Reid #8 defends the ball against SCHS

MVHS and SCHS rallied back and forth to start the second quarter. Offense from MVHS was missing.
“I didn’t want to get tired or use up all my energy so I just wanted to stall until the end,” sophomore Anika Cheerla said. “In most games we come back in the last two quarters”.
Eventually, junior Neha Mylvaganan made a goal with 50 seconds left in the quarter to make the score 2-2 heading into halftime.

Anika Cheerla #4 prepares to make a pass
Anika Cheerla #4 prepares to make a pass

To start off the third quarter, SCHS played with a strong offense, making three shots in a row. On the MVHS side, freshman goalie Arushi Madan did not have the defensive backup she needed, allowing SCHS easily make these shots. Two minutes into the quarter, the score was 5-2 with SCHS in the lead. This was Madan’s first game against SCHS, but she quickly adjusted to the situation and used quick thinking to block many of the shots.
With two minutes left in the quarter, MVHS scored twice before the end of the first half. The MVHS offense came alive to make the score 5-4.

Lauren Tang #8 makes a pass
Lauren Tang #8 makes a pass

The SCHS defense backed off at the beginning of the fourth quarter, which allowed MVHS to tie the score at 5-5. Afterwards, the SCHS offense fired back and Madan found herself unable to make substantial steals or blocks. SCHS continued to make four consecutive shots, and despite the effort from the MVHS defense, the game ended with a score of 9-5 in SCHS’ favor.

Anika Cheerla #4  protects the ball as she looks for teammates to pass to
Anika Cheerla #4 protects the ball as she looks for teammates to pass to

Upon reflecting on this game, Madan’s main takeaway was that she had to be more explosive.
“Definitely gonna work on steals and being a little bit more explosive and just preparing my legs and conditioning more,” Madan said.
MVHS varsity coach Gigi Swan agreed also. In the past three games, Swan said the players have been missing the mentality they need, which also affected the team’s shooting percentage. A strong mentality is a skill that she focuses on with her players and is something that was missing during this game.
Cheerla’s strategy to save her energy didn’t work out well in the team’s favor, either. In preparation for the next game, Swan plans to focus on what the team’s attitude should be and how the team should turn up the energy level.
“You’ve got to go in there fired up and ready to play in every single aspect,” Swan said. “That’s where the mentality part comes in. We’re not at the intensity level yet.”

MVHS will play Wilcox High School at home next, on (27, Sept.).

Additional reporting and photos by Om Khandekar.