There wasn’t a lot in the way of offense in the first half of Woodside’s 12-6 win over Notre Dame-Belmont.
The two girls’ water polo teams squared off Tuesday at Capuchino in San Bruno, and together only totaled three goals in the first half. Woodside (3-1 PAL Bay Division), facing the north goal with the sun directly in its eyes, had a legitimate excuse. NDB, however, was forced to contend with Wildcats goalkeeper Sophie Simpson.
Simpson was a menace in the cage. Woodside never trailed, but NDB had its chances after cutting the deficit to 2-1 on Olivia Semien’s first goal of the day with 2:56 to go in the first half. The next two times down the pool, however, the Tigers were rejected by Simpson’s clutch play in goal, who first got two hands on a 1 v 1 against Semien. Then Simpson denied Monica Bach on a tough angle off the left post to preserve the lead.
“She consistently plays well in goal for us,” Woodside first-year head coach Cara Skourtis said. “She’s a junior and she’s been working really hard on her game, and really consistently playing well. So, we’re really glad to have her there.”
Simpson kept her team in it for 14 minutes. Then her offense rewarded her with an onslaught of goals after the halftime break. The Wildcats outscored NDB 6-2 in the period, a big difference from the first half when it seems like every Woodside shot was a magnet for the crossbar.
Woodside junior Lucy Worden racked up five goals on the day, four them coming in the third quarter. She didn’t quite match her season high of seven goals, which she totaled in the Wildcats’ 15-goal output against Burlingame.
“We got off to a little better start in that one (against Burlingame),” Skourtis said. “We had a lot of shots right at the goalie today and we hit the post and the crossbar a bunch.”
In the first half, it was Colette Akemann who got Woodside on the board with just 20 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, sending a soft lob from six meters out on the heels of an exclusion penalty. Edana Huang followed with 3:19 left in the half, pulling up on a turnover break and chucking from four meters off the right side to make it 2-0.
In the second half, Elizabeth Warren swam up the gut to score on a short lob on Woodside’s first possession.
Then Worden went to work, scoring three of Woodside’s next four goals.
“I think we just gained a little bit of confidence and got in a groove,” Worden said.
But the junior could not explain the Wildcats’ accuracy for the crossbar in the first half.
“I’m not sure, I guess it just took us a little bit of time to warm up,” Worden said.
There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when NDB striker Isabelle Neil scored on a contended goal, colliding with Simpson as she released the ball. Play was halted for several minutes as Neil exited with a shoulder injury. She left the pool for the hospital before play resumed, and was sent off with a supporting round of applause from the many fans in attendance.
Akemann totaled two goals for Woodside, with individual scores including Annika Janzen, Courtney McLean and Morgan Helfand.
“We talked about finishing shots,” Skourtis said of Woodside’s second-half surge. “If you’re on your back and you shoot, or you don’t follow through, the ball is going to sail. So, get off your back, get your legs under you and finish your shots, and it’s going to improve things.”
Semien converted a hat trick for NDB. Neil scored two goals, and Allison King added one.