Shawn Hobson….LA JOLLA – The Panthers are champions in the pool once again!
The win marked the team’s fifth CIF title in nine years.
The Panthers trailed 3-1 in the first quarter before rallying back during the championship battle held at La Jolla HIgh School. VHS senior Samantha Witt scored a hat trick of goals, while teammates Emma Franck and Kaylee Hughes scored two goals apiece to lead Vista to the title win.
“I’m so proud of my girls,” Vista coach Sydney Witt said. “I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, but I feel like these girls are mine. I am so happy for them. We’re going to have a pizza party tonight.”
Photos by Shawn Hobson
It’s the first championship for the Vista team since 2011 — when coach Witt played for the school.
“She has a ton of experience,” VHS boys water polo coach Dave Spence said of his player-turned-coach. “She knows what it’s like to win, and she doesn’t know what it’s like to lose in these championship games.”
Spence, who still coaches the VHS boys water polo team, was the girls team coach when it won four consecutive CIF titles, from 2008 to 2011. Sydney Witt played on all four championship teams.
Witt, who is in her third year of coaching the Panthers, said the team — which includes her younger sister, Samantha — was dedicated, practicing every afternoon, on top of early morning conditioning.
The work paid off for Samantha Witt, who scored three goals in the title game.
“We had to workout three days a week in the morning. We got up at 5:30 a.m. We swam one day in the pool, and then we did two days of weights. That meant we had three days where we do two-a-day (practices),” Samantha Witt said. “It’s not my favorite. It’s a lot of work, but if it’s going to get us this (championship). It’s well worth it.”
As the team celebrated their win, even their fully dressed coaches ended up in the water. Receiving their trophy, the players smiled ear to ear.
“I’m so excited and overwhelmed,” junior Franck said.
The matchup was the third time the Panthers played Fallbrook this season. The teams had split the first two games prior to the title game.
“We started off strong, but Vista responded,” Fallbrook coach Sean Redmond said. “They were just a better team today.”
Vista Goals: Samantha Witt 3, Emma Franck 2, Kaylee Hughes 2.
Fallbrook Goals: Mackenzie Montgomery 2, Jazmin Patterson 1, Taylor Dowden 1.
Contact Shawn Hobson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @HOBMediaWorks.