Palm Desert Aztecs water polo off to a hot start


The start of the Desert Valley League water polo season is just underway and Palm Desert High School has taken early command.

As it should.

With Tuesday’s 15-5 triumph against Palm Springs, the Aztecs stand at 13-2 overall, 2-0 in DVL and are ranked No. 2 in the latest CIF Division VI poll.

Palm Desert, which has one loss in the division to top-ranked Yorba Linda, is surging ahead with a balanced attack.

“This team is definitely well-balanced and they’re all very talented,” said Palm Desert coach Michelle Stein-Valovic. “We’ve got a lot of subs that are equally as good as the starters so the other teams are gonna have a hard time dropping from one player.”

That worked against the Indians as senior Addi Halligan and sophomore Elise Stein led the Aztecs’ attack with four goals each. Kelley Burke contributed with three, while freshman Sarah Nichols added two. Seniors Cindy Delic and Emily Garczynski rounded out the scoring.

Palm Desert was on the board just 14 seconds into the match when Halligan netted her first. She added another 20 seconds later and Palm Desert was on a roll.

“We have five seniors, an amazing sophomore and freshman, and we are building with them,” said Halligan. “We definitely have team balance. We talked to the boys about it (the Palm Desert boys won the CIF title with a balanced attack). They had a similar balance like ours.

“And we’re having a blast. We’re having a lot of fun out there.”

Palm Desert made it look easy, taking a 6-1 lead after the first quarter and cruising to a 12-2 advantage at the half.

Goalie Savannah Clyde was rarely tested, but fended off a couple of high shots that were close. Palm Springs put up a few soft shots but was forced to shoot from midway out thanks to the Aztecs’ swarming defense.

Palm Springs was led by Silvana Cespedes with two goals, while Savana Cummings, Danielle Davila and Lyndsey Byrd also tallied. Jade Little turned in a strong defensive effort.

“We’ve had some all around improvement in team defense and the offense is coming along,” said Indians coach Brendan Meaney, whose squad is 11-6 overall, 0-2 in league play. “That was some good sportsmanship on their part, (Palm Desert) backing off in the second half. They’re a tough team. They’re gonna be ready to go and we’re taking it step by step and hoping we can face off with them for DVL.”

Palm Desert hosts Xavier Prep on Thursday, while Palm Springs travels to Indio.

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