Sabers take water polo game at last second


Photo by Maile Sur

Senior Mia Czerwinski protects the ball as she prepares to pass during the Sabers 11-12 win over the Warriors on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at Piʻilani Aquatic Center.

Water polo lost 11-12 in the final second of their game against the Sabers of Maui High in a head-to-head battle Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at Piʻilani Aquatic Center.

“Our girls played with heart, and although we didn’t win, and it was their senior night, they can walk away from this game knowing that they gave it their all,” Assistant Coach Ashley Cruz-Miller said.

In the first quarter, the teams went back and forth with goals one after another and ended the period, 3-3.

At the start of the second, sophomore Quinn Shiraishi sprinted out to the toss up and won the ball for her team. With a quick play to senior Mia Czerwinski, Czerwinski was able to take a shot, just barely missing the net and hitting the post.

On the counterattack, junior and first-year player Rachel Hillen saved a shot from Maui High’s Erica Sawczynec.

The Sabers’ Sawczynec and Cloe Adams put most Maui High’s points on the board that afternoon. They were tied for leading goal scorer at 5 points each.

“Scoring a goal is really exciting, especially because I didn’t score any last season,” Sawczynec said. “Coming into this season and doing shot after shot after shot is such a great feeling.”

The quarter was point-for-point again, bringing the score to 4-4.

During the half-time break, Coach Cruz-Miller told the girls to attack on offense, but not to foul on defense.

However, referees called many fouls on the Warriors in the second half.

“It’s frustrating because throughout MIL, an extremely long season, the refs start to anticipate things from players,” Coach Cruz-Miller said. “They start to call fouls before, in my opinion, they’re done.”

The Warriors came out strong in the third quarter with a quick goal by junior Lia Ikeda. The score was 5-4.

On a long pass from goalie Hillen, senior Chanel Browne was able to shoot and score increasing their lead by 2 points.

While in pursuit of a goal, senior Mical Ventura-Estrella was fouled and given a shot at goal. The goal was good making the score 7-4 in favor of the Warriors.

The Sabers came back to score another goal right before the end of the quarter. The score was 7-5.

Quarter four was full of action with three ejections for the Warriors. All three resulted in goals for the Sabers.

To score the first goal in the fourth for the Warriors was Ventura-Estrella, followed by another goal for the Warriors.

On the counter-attack, the Sabers were able to get another goal, but the Warriors weren’t ready to give up their lead.

Czerwinski and sophomore Quinn Shiraishi both got goals consecutively, but in the next play, two Warriors were ejected. This was the start of the Sabers comeback.

With another penalty, this time on sophomore Kulia Fernandez, Maui High was given a penalty shot. The score was now 11-10.

The Sabers maintained possession and scored another goal, bringing the game to an 11-all tie.

As the clock was winding down quickly, Maui High scored another goal, giving them their first lead in two quarters. This time, however, there were only seconds left to come back.

Czerwinski was given a long ball from defense, and while in pursuit of a goal, got caught under water. With no foul call, the time ran out, and the final score was 11-12 in favor of the Maui High Sabers.

“I am very excited and happy. Kamehameha is a good, solid team…they played a good game, and I was very impressed with Maui High to even be competitive with them,” said Stan Zitnick, Sabers head coach. “The last time we played them it was a 16- or 17-point game.”

Leading goal scorer for the Warriors was Ventura-Estrella with 5 goals.

“I feel proud and happy [for scoring], but it’s sad that we lost,” Ventura-Estrella said. “We’ll be in the MIL tournament, and we still have a couple more teams to play, so we have to fight for that second-place seed for states.”

The Maui Interscholastic League Tournament will be held April 21-23 at the Kīhei Aquatic Center.

“We are going to have an extremely hard next couple weeks of workouts to make sure these girls come out on top no matter what they do and that they’re not tired by the end of the quarter or at the end of the game… They’re going to have to fight like warriors,” Coach Cruz-Miller said.

The Warriors promise sportsmanship, dedication, determination and unity is promised at the MIL tournament.

“I think that all the MIL teams are great, but the thing that sets us apart is that were a family first. These girls have each other’s back whether it’s in the pool, outside the pool. It’s not just teaching them about water polo, but character and life skills,” Coach Cruz-Miller said.