It appears as if a total of 16 teams will by vying for the 12 berths available in the upcoming San Diego Section Division I girls water polo playoffs. The teams include Carlsbad, Granite Hills, Torrey Pines, Patrick Henry, Westview, Grossmont, Vista, Scripps, Eastlake, Fallbrook, RBV, Poway, Helix, Otay Ranch, El Camino and Mission Hills.
Otay Ranch and Eastlake are vying for an automatic bid as the Mesa League champion. At are berths might be hard to come by, thus making strong showings at the upcoming East County Invitational and San Diego Open tournaments of prime importance — as well as continuing to do well in league play.
In games on Thursday, Eastlake defeated Bonita Vista, 12-3, while Otay Ranch jump-started the second round of league play with a 16-0 shutout win over Mater Dei Catholic.
The Titans remain at the top of the Mesa League standings after completing the opening round of league play with a 4-0 record while the Mustangs improved to 3-2 in league play.
Otay Ranch (11-3 overall) appears to be the team behind the proverbial eight ball at present. Mustang head coach Ernie Medina admits it will be a "tough road ahead" for his team.
In order to sway the playoff selection committee, Medina feels his team needs to place among the top three teams at this weekend's East County Invitational (Jan. 25-26 at El Capitan High School).
Otay Ranch starts off against Point Loma on Friday, with the winner likely playing either Ramona and either El Capitan, West Hills or Westview.
The San Diego Open starts Monday, Jan. 28, when the Mustangs face Westview and Santana.
The schedule gets hectic from there. Otay Ranch has league games against Bonita Vista on Tuesday and Hilltop on Thursday, followed by additional games in the SD Open that coming Saturday.
The Mustangs finish regular season play against Eastlake on Feb. 5.
Division I teams participating in this year's San Diego Open include Torrey Pines, Patrick henry, Granite Hills, RBV, Grossmont, El Camino, Westview, Otay Ranch and Helix. Eastlake has beaten RBV, Poway and Otay Ranch but lost to Westview, Poway and Grossmont.
The Mustangs avenged an early season loss to Helix by defeating the Highlanders, 3-2, in a double overtime contest on Monday to start the ECI tourney. Cailin Lechner scored the game-tying goal and Gabby Nunez scored the game-winning goal. Goalie Enma Cornwell had 16 saves.
Otay Ranch 16 Mater Dei Catholic 0
Cornwell, last season's novice goalie, made eight saves and had two steals and two assists in notching her fourth shutout this season -- one short of the San Diego Section record held by former Mustang standout Carolyn Lechner (five). Sara Medina scored 11 goals and made a school record 13 steals while adding two assists to key the ORHS offense.
Cornwell has allowed 32 goals in the regular season with 156 saves. Besides the four shutouts, she also has allowed just one goal in three other games against Bonita, Monte Vista and Point Loma.
The Mustang defense has allowed only 32 goals in 14 regular season games.
Eastlake 12, Bonita Vista 3
Goalie Haley Derrod had 13 saves, one steal and three assists against Bonita Vista. She now needs 53 saves to break the section career saves record.
Natsumi Watanabe, Briana Vazquez and Sharon Jimenez led the EHS offense with three goals each.
The Titans improved to 11-8 overall.