VARSITY SEASON PREVIEW
Defending the Crown:
The CHS Girl’s Water Polo teams enters into the 2017-18 season as the defending CIF Division 1 champions for the first time in school history. And for the first time, Clairemont has a target on their back that every team in San Diego is aiming for. But the Lady Chieftains are up to the challenge, as the varsity team has been putting in serious off season training in the weight room and in the pool with the Sunset Water Polo Club to prepare themselves for another championship run.
Clairemont returns 6 players from the 2017 championship squad, including three players who received All-CIF honors at the end of the season. Amongst those three players is star goaltender Hope Lovich (Jr), who was the first Sophomore in CIF history to earn CIF MVP in Division 1. Lovich recorded 322 saves last season, stopping 70% of all shots she faced, and aims to break the CIF saves record (419) this season. Abby Keegan (Jr) was honored last season as well, earning 2nd team All-CIF after establishing herself as one of the top center players in San Diego. Abby competed in the Junior Olympics this past summer, and has gained the attention of several high end NCAA programs including San Diego State, UCLA, Azuza Pacific, and CSU Monterey Bay. Ella Denny (Jr) was also honored last season for her strong performance as a Sophomore, earning 3rd team All-CIF after scoring several clutch goals in the Semi-Final and Championship games of CIF in 2017. Ella looks to use her speed and tenacity, as well as her uncanny ability to score improbable shots, to lead the Lady Chieftains back to CIF Finals.
This year’s team includes 5 seniors who have a wealth of varsity experience under their belt. Returning from the starting line up last season is Zoe Currigan, the 6’2 senior who has committed to Cal for academics next year. Currigan uses her length and speed to punish players on defense, and has a wide arsenal of offensive weapons at her disposal including the skip shot and a deadly off-speed lob. Kyla Kleege returns for her third year on varsity and is currently receiving offers from La Salle University, Wagner College, and Salem International University to play polo next year. Kleege is an outstanding press defender, likes to capitalize on turnovers with her speed in transition, and has an exceptional ability of hitting open lanes while driving on offense. Emily Hascall enters into her second year on varsity as the team’s vocal leader on the offensive and defensive ends of the game. Look for Hascall to score alot of goals on counter attack this season! Bridget Hilton and Reina Salcedo cap off the list of seniors this year, and are also in their second year on varsity. Hilton adds even more speed to the Chieftain counter attack, and looks to utilize her laser beam arm to provide some much needed outside shooting to the offense. Salcedo has the daunting task of being the new 2-meter defender this season…a position which has been held down for the last 4 years by two eventual collegiate players in Taylor McCauley (15-16, 16-17) and Olivia Woolery (13-14, 14-15), both of which earned All-CIF honors during their time at Clairemont. But Reina is up to the challenge!
On the Rise:
Three sophomores have rapidly risen up the depth charts to become major contributors on the varsity squad this season. Ashlynn Sauerwein is a rising star in the polo community, putting in a dedicated year of off-season training to earn a starting spot on varsity as only a Sophomore. Sauerwein is the all around package – able to play any position in the pool effectively on offense, and provides a stout defensive presence on the perimeter. Complementing Sauerwein are fellow sophomores Erin Flynn and Brooke Hilton. Flynn, sister of Clairemont legend Katie Flynn, is a lock down defender who can provide reliable substitution minutes for her older teammates in close situations. Hilton, younger sister of senior Bridget, is another player capable of providing dependable substitution minutes and (like Bridget) is not afraid to show off her rocket launcher shot.
Looking to Make a Splash:
Several new faces joined the Chieftains this season! Of the new comers, four have already started to make a splash on the varsity team. Olivia Butters, Kaitlyn Heindl, and Fiona Flanagan are three freshmen who dedicated their entire fall to the preseason training regiment, and the results are evident! Look for these three to quickly rise into prominent roles on varsity in the near future! But of all the newcomers, one player has truly been a standout – Phoebe Currigan. Currigan comes in with 4 years of polo experience with Sunset under her belt, including an entire year playing on the 18 and unders team with her older sister Zoe as a 13 year old. Phoebe, hampered by an early season injury, strives to become the first ever freshmen to start on varsity during Coach Kienle’s tenure at Clairemont.