LA CAÑADA — With raindrops falling on their heads, the members of the La Cañada High girls’ water polo team began defense of their Rio Hondo League championship Tuesday.
The steady rain didn’t bother La Cañada, which rolled to a convincing 12-6 home win against rival San Marino.
The Spartans, who won the league title last season and advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, were in command throughout. They built a 5-0 lead after the first quarter and raised the lead to 11-0 midway through the third quarter.
“It’s rare to have rain, so it took a little bit of time to get used to it,” said La Cañada junior attacker Madison Solares, who finished with a team-high three goals. “We overcame it pretty quickly and we wanted to get off to a quick start and we were able to do that.
“I think we have a real good team and we’ve been putting in the work to get better. It showed today by the way we got started. We knew coming in that San Marino is a real good team.”
The Spartans (4-5) received two goals each from Julia Nicholls, Mimi Zwaneveld, Eve Branda and Meadow Solares and one from Genevieve Fraipont to best San Marino (9-3).
Madison Solares scored two first-quarter goals to spur the Spartans. Her second goal gave the Spartans a 4-0 lead with 1:25 remaining.
La Cañada got one goal apiece in the second quarter from Zwaneveld, Branda and Madison Solares to build an 8-0 halftime advantage.
Meadow Solares scored a man-advantage goal to extend the lead to 11-0 with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
“It’s all about being able to execute and giving the effort,” said La Cañada first-year coach Ian Davidson, who took over the program from his wife, Nikki, who took a coaching position at UC San Diego. “They push each other to be the best they can be.
“It’s great to start league with a win, but there are still a few things that we need to work on. We didn’t execute well on a few of our possessions. We were able to jump out early by playing good defense and getting some counter-attacks.”
La Cañada junior goalkeeper Carolyne Stern, the league’s reigning most valuable player, made six saves in the first half before being replaced.
San Marino received a team-best five goals from Annette Aledeffa.
The Spartans and Titans will meet again Jan. 25 at San Marino.