The Otay Ranch Mustangs girls water polo team was unlucky to lose successive coin-flips and not gain entry into the San Diego Section playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
The Mustangs tied for the Mesa League’s regular season championship in both 2009-10 and 2010-11. But the Metro Conference’s tie-breaker procedure, much to ORHS head coach Ernie Medina’s displeasure, relies on a simple coin-flip.
It would seem like a 50-50 call but in each instance the flip of the coin hasn’t gone the Mustangs’ way.
If anything, Medina wouldn’t like to see another tie for the league banner this season.
“We plan to take one game at a time and prepare for each game,” the ORHS coach said. “Our intention is to make playoffs this year. Division I is always tough and the Mesa League this year may be tough, too. I know my girls want to win.”
The Mustangs finished 19-7 overall last season but watched the playoffs from the sideline after tying Eastlake for the Mesa League title.
Otay Ranch and Bonita Vista fought to a stalemate atop the league standings the previous season.
Medina would like to think this season might hold a different outcome. However, as the level of play in the South Bay continues to improve, anything remains possible.
Veteran experience should benefit Medina’s squad however high in the standings it eventually places.
The Mustangs’ returning varsity roster includes two four-year players, seniors Kelsey Eaton and Mariela Rodriguez, and five third-year players: goalie Brianna Patricio, seniors Tori Kelly, Audrey Py and Sara Gagarin and junior Sarah Medina.
Cailin Lechner is returning for her second year on the team. Otay Ranch will be integrating seven first-year players into the line-up this season: goalies Emma Cornwell and Cielie Netzelt, senior Tricia Ferrer, and Lizzie Lechner, Fernanda Arambula, Camila Benitez and Larysa Lucatero.
So far in the preseason, the combination has been a winning one.
The Mustangs defeated Serra, 16-4, in the annual Draz Classic on Nov. 19, and came out on top, 6-5, in an alumni match on Nov. 23.
In Tuesday’s scrimmage at Mar Vista, Otay Ranch swam away with a 19-3 victory.
Sarah Medina led the Mustangs in Tuesday’s scrimmage with nine goals, 10 steals and two assists, while Eaton collected four goals, two steals and three assists. Rodriguez, Gagarin and Py each had two goals while Patricio made eight goalie saves.
Rodriguez had seven steals while Gagarin had five steals in the scrimmage win over the Mariners.
The younger Medina led the team with four goals, five steals and one assist in the Draz Classic. Eaton scored four goals against Serra while Kelly had three goals and two steals, Py scored three goals and Rodriguez and Cailin Lechner each contributed one goal.
The Mustangs were scheduled to open regular season play Thursday at El Cajon Valley and will host Mira Mesa on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Loma Verde pool.
League play opens on Jan. 13.
The Mesa League’s elite roll call to start the season also includes Hilltop’s Chelsea Tomlinson and Eastlake’s Haley Derod and Kerry Lindsay.
Bonita Vista returns its entire team from 2010-11. Standouts include Cierra Flores, Bailey Garcia and Lauren Broyles, closely followed by the rest of the squad's returning seniors, according to coach Betty Alexander.
“We have some newcomers from year-round swimming who should be a great asset to the team,” Alexander said. “Our goals are to get to CIFs and make a run for the banner. I have high hopes for the girls and hope they perform to their ability.”
Eastlake also participated in the Draz Classic, defeating Mt. Carmel 7-4. Bonita Vista also saw action in the Nov. 19 event, dropping a 10-9 decision to Canyon Crest Academy.
Mustangs scalp Braves, 23-2, in season opener
The Otay Ranch Mustangs held no prisoners in Thursday’s season opener — a 23-2 non-league victory against the host El Cajon Braves. Sarah Medina scored nine goals while adding six steals and three assists while Kelsey Eaton scored seven goals and added five steals and three assists.
Other Otay Ranch goal-scorers included Sara Gagarin and Mariela Rodriguez, each with two, and Audrey Py, Tori Kelly and Cailin Lechner, each with one.
Briana Patricio had eight saves in three quarters while Emma Cornwell had two saves in one quarter. Gagarin and Py each made four steals to aid the defensive effort.