By Rick Assad
There is no doubt that Nancy Baylor is the best overall player on the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team.
Making sure the senior was double and sometimes triple teamed was a priority for visiting Temple City when the two teams met in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round playoff match on Tuesday night.
This strategy worked to near perfection as Baylor was held to two goals in a 14-6 loss which ended her illustrious career.
“I’m very sentimental after this game. I’m beyond proud of our team and how far we’ve come throughout this whole season and how much grit we’ve shown,” said Baylor, who will play women’s water polo for the University of Indiana and came in averaging six goals per match. “I’m really going to miss every single girl and coach.”
The Bears (14-9 overall and 8-1 for first in the Pacific League) trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter before Baylor scored on a 14-foot shot with 36 seconds left that trimmed Temple City’s advantage to 7-1, which was the score at halftime.
Baylor scored again with 2:18 remaining in the third period on a 12-foot toss that sliced the margin to 9-4.
“I will say it’s always a little frustrating dealing with a lot of drops, but it consistently challenges me to think outside the box, adapt, and communicate with the team in order to finish the plays,” said Baylor of the tight defense adopted by the Rams.
Baylor acknowledged that facing adversity isn’t fun, but it helped her become a better person and player.
“This high school era has been a challenging adventure and I’ve really tried hard each high school season to adapt and rise to the occasion,” said Baylor who is the school’s all-time scoring leader. “Along the way I’ve hit a lot of personal milestones and developed confidence through having to step into different roles each year.”
Sophomore Ava Tomlinson was the Bears’ leading scorer with four goals and three were tallied in the third frame.
Tomlinson’s 12-footer with 6:03 left saw Burroughs get within 7-2 and Tomlinson’s 14-footer with 4:20 on the clock made it 9-3.
Tomlinson’s seven-meter penalty toss with 1:07 left made it 12-5.
Tomlinson also added a five-meter penalty throw with 3:53 remaining in the fourth period as the Bears drew within 13-6.
“Today was a tough match for us, especially coming off a super emotional Pacific League championship game with Arcadia [11-9 loss]. We struggled to regain our confidence, especially early, going down 5-0 in the first,” Burroughs co-coach Martin Ortega Jennison said. “Temple City had some good outside shooters. It was tough for Nancy to get going when she was double teamed and triple teamed at times, but she found ways to find her teammates and set them up. We just couldn’t convert offensively to help her.”
Ortega Jennison still found a bright light even with the loss.
“It was tough but a great learning opportunity for some of the younger girls to be able to compete in a playoff game,” he said. “With the team being super young with only two seniors, we have a lot of work to look forward to with this group. There is a lot of talent and a very hard-working group of girls that should step into some of the leadership roles moving forward. It’s been an honor to coach these girls and they deserve a lot of recognition for their time and effort they put in all season.”
Pacing the Rams (21-8 in all matches and 8-2 for second place in the Rio Hondo League) was senior utility Jade Cuevas with a match-best six goals while senior utility Armita Shadfar added four goals.
Temple City rushed out to a 5-0 lead in the opening quarter as Shadfar scored three goals and they came with 4:38 left on a 12-footer for a 2-0 lead, a 14-footer with 3:28 remaining that extended the margin to 3-0 and a 10-footer with 1:06 left for a 4-0 edge.
A goal from close range with one second left by Cuevas made it 5-0.
Sophomore utility Lulu D’Orange opened the match with a 16-footer as 6:31 remained for a 1-0 lead.
When Cuevas scored on a nine-footer with 5:47 on the ticker in the second period, the Rams increased the lead to 6-0
It became 7-0 when Cuevas tossed in a 10-footer for a 7-0 cushion.
Temple City held a 12-5 lead after three quarters as Cuevas scored on a 16-footer with 4:13 left for a 9-3 lead.
When Cuevas scored on a point-blank attempt and 1:42 on the clock, the Rams led 11-4.
An eight-footer by D’Orange with two minutes remaining on the clock made it 10-4 in favor of the Rams.
Senior driver Lorraine Tam’s 10-footer with 5:39 left increased the cushion to 8-2 and senior attacker Brooke River’s seven-footer with 1:18 left made it 12-4.
A short-shot goal with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter from Cuevas pushed Temple City in front 13-5 and sophomore driver Brianna Lee’s point-blank effort with 1:36 on the timer capped the scoring as the Rams pulled in front by eight goals.