The Palm Desert High School girls’ water polo team wasted little time jumping back into their pool for the first time this season. The Aztecs’ home was out of commission until Tuesday’s Desert Valley League opener against defending champ Palm Springs, and Palm Desert used its home field to its advantage for a 16-3 victory.
Palm Desert scored the first four goals before Palm Springs cut it to 4-1 after the first quarter. Junior Emily Garczynski led the charge with the opening goal of the game and finished with a team-leading seven goals.
Palm Desert led 10-1 at the half and cruised for the win.
“I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Garczynski of her offensive effort. “I expected to be double-teamed. We all went out there and got it done.
“We’ve been wanting to beat them since my freshman year and the games are always tough, close games. This wasn’t expected, so I was really excited that we were able to go out and do our best.”
Garczynski said the Aztecs have been working hard on the team aspect, constantly practicing passing tactics and continuing to work together.
“Today it was a lot of hard work, a lot of practice,” she said. “We have some speed, but we’re so much closer than last year, and we’re really working together.”
While Garczynski was able to collect the most goals, it was the positioning throughout the game that made it easy for Palm Desert.
Cindy Delic, Kelley Burke and Addison Halligan all tallied in the first quarter before Palm Springs got on the boartd with 1:55 to go with a score from Savana Cummings.
It was Halligan, too, that led the offensive charge, when she was so strong on defense. She finished with 15 steals and got some solid help from Burke with the passing. Burke found Garczynski often and the Aztecs were able to finish.
In the second quarter, Garczynski put in a floater, then 30 seconds later, she found the back of the net again. Elise Stein tallied before another add from Garczynski.
Palm Springs’ Sophie MacEwan had a couple of chances and rifled one off the crossbar, but the Aztecs held. Garczynksi and Stein rounded out the halftime scoring.
Palm Desert (11-5, 1-0) coach John Nichols said his team was prepared.
“We knew Palm Springs was a good team and well-coached, so they would bring their weapons,” he said. “We just focused on playing as a team, good passes, getting mentally prepared. It’s the first game of DVL and being the first game back in our pool, the girls really wanted to win. We play again in two weeks and we could see a totally different Palm Springs team. We’ll just have to keep the pedal down and do our best.
“We’ve had some really good practices and been working on making passes under pressure. We’re going to play as a team and win as a team.”
In the second half, Palm Desert’s Amanda Gerhardt knocked in the only goal in the third quarter, but her team responded with more.
Indians’ MacEwan scored to open the final quarter, Garczynski followed and Palm Springs’ Cummings added her second goal. However, that would be it for the Indians.
Gerhardt shortly after skipped another in, Garczynski scored from the 5-meter mark, Halligan tallied and Stein completed the scoring when she got her own rebound and slipped it past hard-working Indians’ goalie Haley Hochanadel.