LAHAINA - The Baldwin High School girls water polo team is growing up.
The Bears were a young group when they won their first Maui Interscholastic League title last season, but now they have a senior-laden roster loaded with state experience.
It is a mantle Lahainaluna owned in the MIL through six straight league titles and a 52-match league winning streak - both snapped by the Bears last year.
Baldwin High’s Jazmine Harmon takes aim on a second-quarter scoring shot as Lahainaluna's Kim Yap defends Wednesday afternoon at Lahaina Aquatic Center. The Bears won the contest.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Baldwin High goalie Katrina Mooers blocks a shot by Lahainaluna’s Kaile Stockham (7) Wednesday afternoon at the Lahaina Aquatic Center. The Bears defeated the Lunas 18-5 to clinch the regular season title.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Since then, Baldwin has been the dominant force in the MIL and that only grew with the Bears' 18-5 win over the Lunas on Wednesday at the Lahaina Aquatic Center.
Baldwin (4-0) clinched the MIL's regular-season title with the victory and one of the league's two spots to the state tournament next month on Oahu.
"It's usually a really close game, but we pulled it through, just worked as a team and we did it," senior utility player Deme DeShayne said after scoring seven goals for Baldwin. "We're really proud of ourselves."
As one of seven seniors who has been in the program for four seasons, DeShayne knows all about being behind the Lunas.
"It feels really good," DeShayne said. "It is different being on top compared to other years."
DeShayne will attend the University of Hawaii where she hopes to walk on to the team. First, the MIL tournament will offer an opportunity to wrap up a second straight league title April 22-24 at the Kamehameha Schools Maui pool. After that, the state tournament awaits May 8-11.
"We're just trying to get better," DeShayne said. "I think the league is getting better. When I started freshman year, the league would never win any games (at state). Now, everyone is progressing. We're just all learning."
Baldwin traveled to Oahu during spring break for five nonleague games and finished with a 4-1 record, including a win over a Kapolei team that dealt the Bears a 12-4 loss in the state quarterfinals last season.
The Bears starting six features five seniors.
"Lahainaluna is still a good team," Baldwin coach Stan Zitnik said. "As high school sports go, there's no draft. Your team is going to graduate, so this is a year for (the Bears) that is a culmination of three or four years of playing. We had only six players when we had to play Lahaina and we were losing to them, like, 16-5, 17-2. So, this is the reward for our work over the years and playing together as a team."
Baldwin led just 4-3 after the first quarter, but DeShayne scored four times in the second quarter to push the lead to 10-5 at halftime. Baldwin's defense did not allow the Lunas to score in the second half.
Last week, the Bears won the first meeting between the two teams 14-12.
"I'm happy with the score," Zitnik said. "I don't want to say anything that is derogatory or take anything away from Lahainaluna because every team has an up or a down day. . . . Last time we played them, we were pretty evenly matched."
Jazmine Harmon added five goals for the Bears, while Alea Weber had three. Yvonne Ngalu, Alyssa Waki and Talia Brainard all had one.
The Lunas were led by freshman Lalelei Mataafa, who had three goals. Bridget Joy and Courtney Galarita each had one.
"We looked a little tired out there, we came out a little flat," Lahainaluna coach Brad Mason said. "Some shots that we normally would hit went wide or barred out. Those are shots we normally put away and we weren't very successful on the man-up, so passing wasn't that great, shooting was a little off. We are better shooters than we showed tonight."
The Lunas have just two seniors.
"We have a month to practice, so we will just keep working on it," Mason said. "We will meet them again in the MIL championships and hopefully get them then."
* Rob Collias can be reached at email@example.com.
|Baldwin||4 6 4 4 — 18|
|Lahainaluna||3 2 0 0 — 5|
Goals-Baldwin: Deme DeShayne 7, Jazmine Harmon 5, Alea Weber 3, Yvonne Ngalu, Alyssa Waki, Talia Brainard; Lahainaluna: Lalelei Mataafa 3, Bridget Joy, Courtney Galarita.