At the midpoint of her Baldwin High School water polo career, goaltender Katrina Mooers reached an intersection of sorts.
The Bears forfeited the Maui Interscholastic League tournament title match against Lahainaluna in 2011, citing safety concerns when only one referee was available.
"That game that we had to forfeit, when we did forfeit, was a very close game," Mooers said earlier this week after being chosen by the league's coaches as the MIL Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Baldwin High School graduate Katrina Mooers will play on a scholarship at Wagner College after helping the Bears go 15-3 this year.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"In the second quarter of that game, I said, 'We can do this. We have the ability to win this game.' We ended up having to forfeit. After that, I thought, 'This is not going to happen again.' "
Since then, the Bears have won 16 MIL matches in a row in two championship seasons. This year's Maui News MIL All-Star team reflects their recent domination.
Mooers is joined on the first team by teammates Alea Weber, Jazmine Harmon and Deme DeShayne, Lahainaluna's Bridget Joy and Lalelei Mataafa and Kamehameha Maui's Leimana Hasset.
In finishing 15-3 overall, Baldwin finished a school-best sixth in the state tournament. The Bears lost only to state runner-up Kahuku in a preseason match, and then to fourth-place Kapolei and to fifth-place Kamehameha Hawaii at state.
"Our team had such a good bond," Mooers said. "That's what I'm really worried that I'll never find again. Our team was like a family, we had some of the best times of our lives together. Can you make sure to put a big thank you to my team and to my mom (Debbie) and dad (Gary), coach Stan (Zitnik) and coach John Donohue?"
Mooers is currently living with her grandmother and training for the summer with the Kahuna Irvine club team - she will play for that squad at the Junior Olympics in August.
"In academics and sports, she focuses and does her best," Zitnik said. "She is self-motivated in reaching a high goal. She was on the principal's list with a 4.0 (grade-point average) and I don't know if she mentioned it, but she did make USA Water Polo All-American for players that play club water polo and also have a high GPA."
Mooers will play on a scholarship at Wagner College in New York, and said she is somewhat stunned to be going there with back-to-back MIL honors.
"I am very surprised," she said. "All season I was trying to figure out who was going to get it this year. . . . I was going to say I was very proud of a couple of my girls who were going to get it. I am very honored to get it again. I worked very hard, both inside and outside the pool."
Baldwin had nine seniors on its roster this year. Harmon will play at Fresno Pacific on a scholarship and Zitnik said DeShayne, Christina Patao-Torres and Alyssa Waki all have walk-on opportunities at Hawaii if they want them.
Mooers said Weber is the best two-meter player with whom she has ever teamed, and Harmon's shot "got me ready - I don't think I would even be able of playing on the college level if it wasn't for the speed of Jazmine's shot because she shoots like an 18-year-old boy."
Mooers also gave credit to another teammate, Yvonne Ngalu, for helping with tough times.
"There were many times when I was on the verge of giving up on myself and I wanted to just break down and cry during practice, just get out of the pool and say, 'I quit,' " Mooers said. "She kept me emotionally stable throughout the season. . . . She was my mentor throughout my whole high school career."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org