The Redondo Union girls’ water polo team started the New Year with a solid performance on the road against Long Beach Poly. The veteran Sea Hawks defeated Poly 16-4 on Jan. 6.
Redondo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period and that is all it took for the Sea Hawks to get the victory as it used all three of its goalkeepers in the game.
Charlotte Cricri scored the winning goal with 2:14 left in the first period with that fifth goal. Redondo Union led 6-2 after the first period and 8-4 at the half.
“We talked with the girls,” said Redondo Union’s Tarah Schaffer, who is one of their top scorers. “We said, ‘We’ve seen the team play. We know some of these girls, but no matter what we need to keep trying. We need to keep working for movement. Maybe there might be an easy shot, but try and make the extra pass.’”
For Long Beach Poly, it was a chance to play a tough opponent.
“We knew that Redondo Union is a Division 2 team and they have a good shot at going pretty far in the playoffs,” said Long Beach Poly’s Brandon D’sa, who is in his second year as head coach. “Today was one of those days where we were trying to come back together (after the break).”
Long Beach Poly will face a tough Long Beach Wilson in league play next.
“This game today was just about practicing and trying out some of our skills,” said Madison Marshall, who is a senior utility player and has played with some of the Redondo Union players. “I knew it was going to be a tough game. We played our hardest.”
Redondo Union improved to 4-3 overall.
Long Beach Poly, which is in Division 3, dropped to 1-10 overall. The Sea Hawks have defeated Huntington Beach, Santa Monica and Dana Hills so far. A couple of their losses were close.
This year’s team is once again coached by Shelby Haroldson, who is in her sixth year as head coach. The team is currently ranked No. 21 in Division 1 & 2 in the first poll of 2020.
She has the program at heights it has never been to before.
“I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish,” Haroldson said. “I have help from my coaches and my girls.”
They have a four-year goalie Kathy Wrightsman who has talent, but has fought injuries through the years.
“Kathy is a really big strength for us this year,” Haroldson said. “She showed that the last four years.”
With strength in goal and an offense that can score it should be a winning combination.
Schaffer, senior, is one of the team’s leading scorers. She plays the utility position.
“She is one of my best friends,” said Wrightsman of Schaffer. “She is great to have on the team. I got her back. She has got my back.”
The two players are co-captains of this year’s team.
Asked who their leading scorer is and Schaffer had this to say, ““It really depends from day-to-day. I think the whole team is contributing well.”
“Basically, any of our starters can help us,” Haroldson said.
One of the best victories to date is against Huntington Beach in a tournament.
“We just came together,” Schaffer said. “We were nervous going in. That was a really good game for us.”
“It was a fun game to win,” said Haroldson, who pointed out it was a tournament game at their home pool. “We have never beaten them before.”
Redondo Union moved up from Division 3 and is now playing against some of the top competition in Southern California.
“We had a good run in Division 3 last year so they are sort of coming off that and ready to prove ourselves in Division 2 and see if we can do it,” Haroldson said.
The Sea Hawks are now playing at a level that is similar to Mira Costa. The teams should be fighting for a Bay League championship this year. Right now, Mira Costa is rated ahead of Redondo Union in the poll.
“I personally have played with a lot of the Mira Costa girls,” Wrightsman said. “I have been good friends with them for a long time. I play club with them, but I think we are definitely going to have a good game against Mira Costa. It’s going to be exciting.”