Jacob Moore has long-term aspirations for the Fountain Valley High girls’ water polo program, which has long inhabited the Sunset League basement as a series of coaches have come and quickly gone.
The Barons’ first-year coach plans to stick around awhile, and his team believes it can surprise some of its rivals — maybe even make it into the CIF Southern Section playoffs — as he builds a foundation around a young group that’s eager to learn.
Fountain Valley took another step forward Thursday afternoon, putting on a splendid defensive display to pull away for a 9-4 triumph at Ocean View in nonleague play. The Barons conceded just one goal after the first quarter and got fine performances from their four seniors to claim their fourth victory in five games over six days.
Ally Wilcox and Amanda Blake scored three goals apiece for Fountain Valley (5-3), and left-hander Grace Galleher added two goals and assisted two more in an impressive triumph built primarily on perimeter defense. Wilcox, the Barons’ leader and top talent, and sophomore Megan Boland were dominant in shutting off the Seahawks’ attack as Fountain Valley turned a tight game into a romp in the second and third quarters.
“We played a pressing defense on the outside, taking away any passes, so [Ocean View] couldn’t do anything on offense,” said Moore, who played at Fullerton College and professionally in Italy. “A lot of dumped passes, a lot of shot-clock violations. If we can keep up the defense, we should be pretty good.”
Leyna Tran, Ocean View’s most vital returning player from last season’s Golden West League title run, netted three goals and produced most of its chances. Carsyn Van Doren also tallied for the Seahawks (4-3).
“We struggled to make good passes,” said Ocean View coach Melissa Fernandez, who expects to contend again for the league championship as she rebuilds with a young team. “We didn’t get enough shots off. The few we got, we were getting a good percentage of goals, but we just weren’t aggressive enough offensively. We’re timid, with everybody kind of looking for somebody else [to step up].”
Fountain Valley, which also got a goal from Kiana Wesley, scored on both of its six-on-five advantages while halting the Seahawks on both of theirs, opening a 6-3 edge on Galleher’s extra-man goal with 2:15 to go in the first half. Ocean View pulled within two on Tran’s strike with four seconds left in the half, then couldn’t find the net again.
“This is a confidence-builder for these girls,” Moore said. “That way, once we get into league, we can really see what they’re made of.”
The Barons believe they can win two Sunset League games this season, against Edison and Marina, and perhaps pull off an upset against Newport Harbor. That would take them to the postseason for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
“All the years I’ve been here, we’ve finished last,” Wilcox said. “It would be a nice senior gift to win a couple of [league] games, and I think we have the potential to do that.”
SCOTT FRENCH is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @ScottJFrench