Girls water polo to begin playoffs

Junior attacker Mollie Cho practices on the morning of Aug. 26. Water polo’s last game took place on Oct. 4 against Southlake Carroll.

Emma Short

Junior attacker Mollie Cho practices on the morning of Aug. 26. Water polo’s last game took place on Oct. 4 against Southlake Carroll.

The girls varsity water polo team will play Marcus in the playoffs this Saturday at the LISD aquatic center at 3:30 p.m after ending the regular season on Oct. 4 with a loss against Southlake Carroll by a score of 19-9.

“We’ve been preparing for playoffs knowing we can win and go to state,” junior team captain Avery Gallucci said. “Having that mindset helps us have a positive attitude. We have the top teams in the state [in our district.] If we can have close games with them and beat them, we should be able to beat any other team.”

The team’s first district game took place on Sept. 2 against Flower Mound and ended with Flower Mound winning 24-8.

“[We] played a really good game, but [our team has] grown a lot since then,” head coach Donzie Lilly said. “It was an exciting way to start the season. It highlighted the things we were good at, and highlighted the things we need to work on. They’ve made drastic improvements since that first game.”

On Sept. 27, they played against Marcus and won with a score of 15-12. 

“The past two years that we’ve been playing [against Marcus,] we’ve never beat them,” Gallucci said. “It was a really huge accomplishment, because last year our way to go to state was to beat them, and we lost, so it felt like a comeback in a way. When we finally beat them, our team was very happy and the coaches were very proud of us. We were very happy with the way we played and how much we’ve improved.”

Southlake Carroll finished the season first in the district, having won 16 games and lost one. On Oct. 4, Hebron played their final regular season game against them.

“Southlake [is a] pretty established program,” Lilly said. “We were looking to improve on our scores compared to what we played last time, and we did. We played better defense and offense. Overall, [it was] a better scoring situation, and I was very proud of how they continued to fight throughout the [game.]”

Many changes have taken place this season, such as going from a club sport to an official UIL sport, resulting in changes to the rules and guidelines. Another of the many changes was the addition of a new assistant coach, Sarah Carlile.

“[Coaching has] been pretty good, [but] it’s been an experience,” Carlile said. “This program is very established and coach Lilly has done a great job at beginning UIL water polo.”

The team secured its spot in the playoffs on Sept. 30 after a win against Keller. The game ended with a final score of 14-3. Overall, the team has won 13 games and lost five, leaving them fourth in the district.

“This season has been a learning experience for everybody,” Lilly said. “There’s a lot of learning on the coaching side, and as well as the athletes trying to adapt to the new format. We’ve moved from five minute quarters to seven minute quarters. We’ve moved from shootouts to overtime. There’s quite a few things that they’ve learned along the way. It’s going to make things more familiar next year instead of new.”