Mar Vista girls water polo team makes history by winning Southern California regional championship

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Mar Vista High School’s girls water polo team, reigning San Diego Section Division II champions, ran the table at last weekend’s Southern California regional championship tournament to capture the Division III title.

The Mar Vista High School girls water polo team recorded a history-making milestone for the Imperial Beach school — as well as the Sweetwater Union High School District — when the Lady Mariners defeated top-seeded Van Nuys Birmingham, 14-9, last Saturday to win the Division III Southern California regional state championship.

Second-seeded Mar Vista, the reigning San Diego Section Division II champions, finished the two-day event held at Ocean View and Segerstrom high schools with a 3-0 record.

Eight schools were seeded in the division.

The Lady Mariners defeated seventh-seeded Reseda Cleveland, 8-5, in last Friday’s quarterfinal round game, then turned around to outlast third-seeded Marina, 3-2, in a triple overtime contest in the semifinals the next morning.

That left Mar Vista and Birmingham to do battle in the championship game that afternoon at Segerstrom High School.

Melanie Clamp, who scored the game-winner against La Costa Canyon in the section finals, led the Lady Mariners at the regional tournament with seven goals, six assists, 11 steals and five drawn ejections. Tatum Billings collected nine goals, six assists, 11 steals and 10 drawn ejections.

Iliana Lopez had a breakout game scoring three very exciting goals, according to head coach Chad Kavanagh.

“It was an amazing and quick ride,” Kavanagh said. “We had our first game at 7:50 p.m. and our third game the next day at 4 p.m., all within 24 hours.  We had a very tough game in the semifinals against Marina.

“In our last game, we were tight for the first quarter then spread the score by four by the end of the second quarter and maintained the lead for the remainder of the game.”

The semifinal game was the most hotly contested and nerve-racking.

Skye Spaulding got the go-ahead goal to make the score 2-1 but the teams ended up tied 2-2 at the end of the game. Both teams went scoreless in the first two overtime quarters, then Summer Chalmers scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime sudden-victory period.

“Our win was a true testament to teamwork,” Kavanagh said. “My girls worked really well together. They were not selfish, the encouraged each other. They never quit. We won two triple-overtime games in this championship season and my girls never hung their heads; they always believed that we could win. I am very proud of this team.”

Mar Vista fans cheered on their team to greatness last weekend.

The Lady Mariners ended their record-breaking season with a 26-5 record and three championship banners — Mesa League, CIF Division II and SoCal Regional Division III.

San Diego Section Open Division champion Bishop’s finished second in the Division I SoCal regional championship game following a 17-8 loss to top-seeded Laguna Beach, while San Diego Section Open Division semifinalist Cathedral Catholic finished runner-up in the Division II SoCal regional final following an 8-7 loss to second-seeded San Clemente.

San Diego Section Division III champion Santa Fe Christian received the No. 5 seed in the SoCal Division III regional but dropped its opening game, 18-6, to the fourth-seeded Palisades Dolphins.