Junior Alaina Cousineau and the San Clemente girls water polo team eye a second straight league title. Photo: Steve Breazeale
Junior Alaina Cousineau and the San Clemente girls water polo team eye a second straight league title. Photo: Steve Breazeale

By Steve Breazeale

Last Season: The San Clemente girls water polo team won the South Coast League title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.

Players to Watch: Makenna Smith, Cassidy Smithson, Amber McCutcheon, Rachel Brownell and Alaina Cousineau.

Circle ’em: Preseason games against Mater Dei (12/17) and Laguna Beach (12/31). League games against rival Dana Hills (1/9, 1/28).

Outlook:

The San Clemente girls water polo team returns six starters from last year’s campaign and begins the new season ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 2 preseason polls.

Although they won the league title and made it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, San Clemente head coach Logan Powell believes his team peaked about a month too early in 2013. The Tritons had a strong fourth-place finish at last year’s Santa Barbara Tournament and followed that up with a win at the Coronado Tournament midseason. The emotional and physical toll from playing at a high level so early in the season was felt when they entered the playoffs, according to Powell.

This year, the Tritons are easing their way into tournament play with their eyes set on repeating as league champions.

“We started a little bit later (this year). It’s a little easier mentally in the preseason to make sure we’re fired up and ready to go when it matters,” Powell said.

The Tritons have several scoring options on offense, including attackers Makenna Smith, Alaina Cousineau and Amber McCutcheon.

On defense, the Tritons will be anchored by senior Rachel Brownell and junior Marissa Echelberger. Powell said the two veteran defenders play with distinctly different styles. Brownell plays with a physical presence and Echelberger uses solid fundamentals to disrupt opposing team’s centers.

The Tritons defense will fuel their counter attack, which will play into the strengths of McCutcheon and sophomore Terra Richardson, Powell said.

Junior Hylah Prussak and sophomore Victoria Reardon will play in goal for the Tritons.

Season Schedule

Date                Opponent                                Location, Time

12/5                 Edison                                             Vista Hermosa, 4 p.m.

12/12-14          Villa Park Classic Tourn.            Woollett Aquatics Center, TBA

12/17               Mater Dei                                        Mater Dei, 5:15 p.m.

12/28               Los Alamitos                                 Capistrano Valley, 5 p.m.

12/31               Laguna Beach                               Capistrano Valley, 11 a.m.

1/9*                 Dana Hills                                     SCHS, 5:15 p.m.

1/11                 Rosary                                            Santa Margarita, 10:15 a.m.

1/14*               Laguna Hills                                 LHHS, 5:15 p.m.

1/16*               El Toro                                           ETHS, 5:15 p.m.

1/17-18           Santa Barbara Tourn.                 Santa Barbara, TBA

1/23*              Trabuco Hills                               SCHS, 5:15 p.m.

1/24-25          Coronado Tourn.                        Coronado, TBA

1/28*              Dana Hills                                    DHHS, 5:15 p.m.

1/31*               Laguna Hills                                SCHS, 4 p.m.

2/6*                El Toro                                          SCHS, 4 p.m.

2/8                  ML King                                       Vista Hermosa, 10:45 a.m.

2/13*               Trabuco Hills                              THHS, 5:15 p.m.

*–denotes league game

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