Palm Desert water polo trounces Pacifica in semi, makes first CIF final

Palm Desert water polo trounces Pacifica in semi, makes first CIF final

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Palm Desert water polo trounces Pacifica in semi, makes first CIF final

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SANTA ANA

The Palm Desert High School girls’ water polo team continued to roll toward its first CIF championship Wednesday, cruising past Pacifica (Garden Grove) 19-4 in a CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinal at Santa Ana Valley High School.

Elise Stein, younger sister of head coach Michelle Stein, led the way for the Aztecs with seven goals, but alternated goals almost perfectly with Kelly Burke, who scored six times.

“I think it was a great game. We went out there and we really gave it our all and it really paid off — all the practicing,” Elise Stein said. “We all just went in there really excited to win, so we just wanted to make sure we left it with a bang.”

The Aztecs got out to a commanding lead over the Mariners early with Kelly Burke scoring the first two goals in just over two minutes into the game.

If not for a 5-meter shot by Caroline Thom of Pacifica, the Aztecs would have shut the Mariners out in the first quarter. As it was, Palm Desert found itself up 6-1 headed to the second period.

“It was really important (that) we went in there with all guns ready and really intensely,” the younger Stein said. “We were ready to win right away.”

The Aztecs were in command of the rest of the periods as well, outscoring the Mariners 3-1 in the second quarter, 4-1 in the third quarter, and 6-1 in the final period.

“I thought (Elise Stein) played very well,” said her older sister. “She had a good game against Pacifica last time and a good game again today, so there’s something about that team that she does well against.”

Also scoring for the Aztecs were Addi Halligan with four goals and Cindy Delic with one.

Palm Desert came close to a championship last year, losing to Yorba Linda in the semifinals, also held at Santa Ana Valley High School. Pacifica played Yorba Linda in last year’s championship game.

Michelle Stein said she wasn’t particularly surprised about Wednesday’s lopsided victory, basing her theory on history.

“I thought there was a lot of electricity, a lot of energy and the game was a lot of fun,” Stein said. “We played (Pacifica) earlier in the season and we had a similar score, so we were hopeful. A lot can change from then to now so I tried not to come in with too much confidence, but I was hopeful.”

She was more enthusiastic about her school’s prospects of winning a CIF championship.

“It’s very exciting, it’s great. I went to this school, and the girls asked me, ‘Oh, what years did you win?’ and I said, ‘This school’s never won,’ ” the head coach said. “This is the first time this school’s ever been to the finals, so it’s a lot of fun to be with the team that does it for the first time.”

Palm Desert plays Yorba Linda on Saturday at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine. Yorba Linda beat Pasadena Poly 11-8 on Wednesday.

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