Lahainaluna claims overall league crown
KIHEI – After the last match between Lahainaluna High School and Baldwin took four overtimes and nearly two hours to decide, Courtney Galarita wanted no more.
The Lahainaluna senior scored six goals and found freshman teammate Julia Bianco alone in front of the net for the game-winner with 11 seconds left to lead the Lunas to a dramatic 11-10 win over the Bears in the Maui Interscholastic League girls water polo tournament final Thursday at the Kihei Aquatic Center.
Bianco’s goal was the only one the Lunas scored that was not from Galarita or Lalelei Mataafa, and wrapped up the overall MIL crown.
“We always practice drive, drive, drive and if you see something open that is a great opportunity, you have got to take it and never stop swimming,” Galarita said of her game-winning assist. “It was awesome. I was, like, hell no we ain’t swimming no more.”
Lahainaluna won six straight MIL titles before Baldwin won the last two.
This year, the Lunas beat the Bears three out of four times, including by 11-10 in four overtimes on Saturday in a playoff for the regular-season title.
“They are a really good team,” Galarita said of the Bears. “It feel so great to accomplish our goal. It took us three years, but we finally beat them.”
Lahainaluna was down 8-5 after a goal by Alea Weber with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left in the third quarter. Weber finished with five goals.
Galarita started the comeback with a breakaway goal on a nifty pass from Bianco with 3:08 left in the third. Mataafa had a five-meter penalty shot hit the post before Galarita scored on a lob shot to bring the Lunas within one with 56 seconds to go in the third.
Lahainaluna goalkeeper Kim Yap found Galarita on another break and Galarita beat Baldwin goalie Cortney Smith to tie the game with 4:43 to play.
Weber gave the Bears a 9-8 lead when she received the ball, spun past Haleigh Berko and put a shot in the left-hand corner of the goal with 2:39 left. Galarita tied the match again 27 seconds later on a power-play goal off a quick pass from Mataafa.
Sheena Obregon gave the Bears a 10-9 lead on a long shot with 1:52 to play before Mataafa tied it on a shot from 10 meters out with 1:43 to go.
“I’m just glad we came out on top and very happy we didn’t have to go overtime,” Lahainaluna coach Bradley Mason said before getting thrown in the pool by his team.
Mason said his team could not have done it without the offense of Galarita and Mataafa.
“Courtney was amazing, she had some great goals – she had her best game of the season right when we needed it, big senior leadership from her,” he said. “Lale has probably the best shot in the state, probably in the nation.”
Baldwin had earned a spot in the tournament final with an 11-10 victory over Kamehameha Maui in triple overtime on Wednesday.
“Great game between two great teams,” said Bears coach Chris Calvert. “The girls left it all out in the pool and that’s what it’s all about. They are all great kids, student-athletes and I think both teams are looking forward to the state tourna-ment and a strong representation of the Maui Interscholastic League.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Baldwin …………. 2 ….. 5 ….. 1 ….. 2-10
Lahainaluna ….. 2 ….. 3 ….. 2 ….. 4-11
Goals-Baldwin: Alea Weber 5, Sheena Obregon 2, Kendra Bean, Tina Medeiros, Leyla Anderson. Lahainaluna: Courtney Galarita 6, Lalelei Mataafa 4, Julia Bianco.