After taking down No. 1 seed Torrey Pines in the semifinals on Nov. 8, the underdog Islanders claimed a Division I CIF San Diego title over No. 2-seeded Carlsbad on Saturday.
The 10-8 win, under new head coach and five-time Olympian Jesse Smith, was redemptive for Coronado.
Last season, the team lost in the CIF finals to Mount Carmel by one point.
Next stop: CIF SoCal Championships
The Islanders (12-14) now move to the 2023 CIF SoCal Water Polo Championships, and they will play Santana (22-6) on Tuesday.
The team’s returners, with the still lingering taste of the previous season’s loss, had the chance to prove themselves against Carlsbad.
“We knew they were going to be [tough] because they were seeded higher, and we knew they were going to play really hard, so we had to show up with the right energy.”-Senior and captain Luke Machin.
“We knew they were going to be [tough] because they were seeded higher, and we knew they were going to play really hard, so we had to show up with the right energy,” senior and captain Luke Machin said.
The game was point-for-point from the start: 3-3 after the first quarter and 4-4 going into the second half.
Senior goalie and captain Spencer Williams said that at half, the team decided to play with the mentality that the scoreboard read 0-0.
Going into the third quarter with fresh energy, junior Ryan Mondzelewski scored two goals in the first two minutes, giving the Islanders a 6-4 edge.
“In my opinion, those two goals really set the pace for the second half,” Williams said. “We were like, ‘okay, we have a two goal lead, we have to use it and keep it. We can’t let our guard down.’”
Machin with 5 goals, Williams 13 saves
Machin took the offense from there, and scored four out of his five total goals in the second half of the game to produce the 10-8 final.
“Ryan Mondzelewski has been a consistent offensive powerhouse, causing teams to focus on him,” Smith said. “Luke’s exceptional shooting abilities and Spencer Williams’s goalkeeping were crucial in gaining and maintaining our lead against Carlsbad.”
Williams racked up a total of 13 key saves in Saturday’s game, and attributed a lot of his success to the defense.
“Quite honestly, the 13 saves, ya that’s a big number, but it was because my team did everything correct on defense, and they gave them the worst possible shot and the easiest shot for me to block,” Williams said.
The final 10-8 score was a collective offensive effort from Coronado—Machin with five, Mondzelewski with two, Luca Morocco with two and Kellen O’Callahan with one.
“It was insane,” Williams said about the win. “I’ve played with those guys for years, and to finally have all of our hard work pay off in such a successful, key moment, is just awesome for me. It’s awesome for our team.”
“I’m extremely proud of our team for overcoming teams seeded higher than us and playing our strongest games when it mattered most at the end of the season.”-Head Coach Jesse Smith.
Smith added he was extremely proud of the team for beating “teams seeded higher than us and playing our strongest games when it mattered most at the end of the season.”