Mesa League polo women make a splash in league openers


The Eastlake High School girls water polo team opened Mesa League play on a winning note by posting an 18-5 victory over Hilltop on Jan. 8 at the Parkway pool. Photo by Phillip Brents

The 2020 Mesa League girls water polo season has faced off and there appears to be no shortage of challengers for this year’s league championship banner.

Eastlake, Bonita Vista and Mar Vista all plunged into the pool with a pair of victories in as many outings to produce three undefeated teams in the first week of play.

Eastlake defeated Hilltop, 18-5, in a game played Jan. 8 at the Parkway pool. The Lady Titans remained undefeated with a 16-8 win at Mater Dei Catholic last Friday.

Bonita Vista defeated host Mater Dei Catholic, 8-3, on Jan. 8 and topped Otay Ranch, 10-1, in a game played last Friday at Southwestern College.

Mar Vista defeated Otay Ranch, 13-4, Jan. 8 at Southwestern College and followed up with a 20-2 victory against visiting Hilltop last Friday.

Eastlake and Bonita Vista meet Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Southwestern College in an obvious high profile encounter.

It’s must viewing.

Jesa Miclat collected two goals and three assists in Eastlake’s 18-5 Mesa League win over host Hilltop on Jan. 8. Photo by Phillip Brents

Making a splash
Mar Vista entered league play with a 6-2 non-league record while Bonita Vista was 6-5. Eastlake carried a 3-8 overall record into league play but with room to improve.

Mar Vista held the higher ranking among the three Mesa League teams at No. 3 among the section’s Division II schools. Bonita Vista was ranked seventh and Eastlake eighth behind No. 1 Granite Hills and No. 2 El Capitan.

Senior Melanie Clamp and sophomore Tatum Billings each scored three goals and one assist to lead Mar Vista in its league opener. The dynamic duo racked up 19 points in the win over Hilltop as Billings rocked the pool with seven goals and five assists and Clamp contributed five goals and four assists.

The two league wins raised Eastlake’s overall record to 5-8 and extended the team’s winning streak to three games.

Eastlake’s Melinda Espinosa lines up a shot on the Hilltop net. Photo by Phillip Brents

Melinda Espinosa paced Eastlake with seven goals and two assists in the league opening win over Hilltop while sister Karyed notched two goals and six assists. Jesa Miclat had two goals and three assists while Erin Gidley had two goals and two assists.

Also, Daniella Rivas had two goals and one assist while Kayla Joloya scored two goals.

Miclat led the team defensively with seven steals while Melinda Espinosa had four steals.

Maegan Ruane had five goalie blocks while Alexia Harlow chipped in with four saves.

Eastlake built a 7-0 first quarter lead.

Despite the fast start, Eastlake coach Edgard Espinosa — Melinda and Karyed’s father — said his team is serving youth this season. But youth doesn’t always equate to inexperience.

“We only have three seniors, have no juniors, have three sophomores and five freshmen,” the elder Espinosa enumerated. “We want to win league — that’s our main goal. We tied Patrick Henry at the beginning of the season and Patrick Henry is ranking high in CIF, so our goal is to make it up the ladder.

“The team is gaining in experience; they’ve gaining in knowledge.”

Karyed Espinosa collected 11 points in the win over Mater Dei Catholic — six goals and five assists — while Melinda Espinosa had nine points on six goals and three assists.

Through 13 games, Karyed Espinosa had collected 57 points on 34 goals and 23 assists to top the Lady Titans in team scoring while Melinda Espinosa ranked second on the team with 46 points on 29 goals and 17 assists.

The Eastlake and Hilltop high school girls water polo teams get together in a show of sportsmanship after the teams’ Mesa League opener on Jan. 8. Photo by Phillip Brents

After an 0-2 start in league play, Hilltop defeated High Tech High Tuesday in a non-league game.

Lancer head coach Ernie Medina said his team is in a rebuilding mode this season with no senior starters.

“We have a very young team,” the veteran Hilltop coach said. “We have four juniors. We’re starting three freshmen. We want to develop and improve.”

The Lady Lancers are floating fourth among Division III teams with a 4-3 overall record, ranking behind No. 1 Santa Fe Christian (10-1), No. 2 Monte Vista (8-2) and No. 3 San Ysidro (12-3).

Chula Vista, enjoying one of its better starts, is ranked fifth with a 7-3 record to bolster South County teams in the division.

San Ysidro, off to a 6-0 start in South Bay League play, defeated Hilltop, 10-5, in a non-league game on Dec. 6. Chula Vista follows in the league standings with a 4-1 mark, with its lone league loss coming 8-2 to San Ysidro on Dec. 11.

Olympian (4-5 overall) had settled into third place in the league standings with a 3-2 record, followed by Montgomery at 2-4, Southwest at 1-3 and Castle Park at 1-4.

Chula Vista hosts San Ysidro on Friday, Jan. 17, in a high profile match-up between league leaders.



Breanna Pangelinan keyed Eastlake with six goals in Wednesday’s 13-2 Mesa League win over Otay Ranch. Photo by Phillip Brents 

Eastlake, Mar Vista win to improve to 3-0 in league, headed on collision course for Mesa League lead

Both Eastlake and Mar Vista won Mesa League games on Wednesday to improve to 3-0 in league play and set up a battle for sole possession of first place in the league standings Friday, Jan. 17, at the Southwestern College pool, starting at 7:45 p.m.

Eastlake topped Otay Ranch, 13-2, on Wednesday while Mar Vista swam past Bonita Vista, 11-5, in a pair of match-ups at the Southwestern College pool.

Mar Vista took a 7-3 halftime lead on Bonita Vista and doubled up the Lady Barons by a 4-2 margin in second-half scoring. Clamp led the winning effort with four goals and four assists to increase her team lead in the scoring column to 67 points on 44 goals and 23 assists.

Melinda Espinosa prepares to fire a shot at the Otay Ranch cage during Wednesday’s steam-filled encounter at the Southwestern College pool. Photo by Phillip Brents

Eastlake led 6-1 at the end of the first quarter and extended its lead to 9-1 at halftime in a game played with steam covering the water surface due to lower air temperatures. Breanna Pangelinan had a big game for the Lady Titans with six goals while Melinda Espinosa scored four times.

Mar Vista previously defeated Eastlake, 16-3, in a tournament game on Dec. 21.

In South Bay League games on Wednesday, Chula Vista edged visiting Olympian, 6-4, while San Ysidro defeated host Castle Park 18-2.


Photo Gallery by Phillip Brents