The Laguna Beach 14-and-under girls' water polo team won seven games over a four-day period and took the gold medal at the 2014 National Junior Olympics Tournament, which concluded Sunday.
Forty-eight club teams from around the nation participated in Session 2 of the event that began July 31 at the Avery Aquatic Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto.
Laguna Beach, the No. 7-seed in its division, began the tournament July 31 and scored easy 19-1 and 20-3 victories over West Valley Water Polo Club and MidValley Polo, respectively.
The tournament started heating up Aug. 1 when Laguna played Diablo in a morning game. Laguna quickly fell behind, 4-0, but rallied to tie the score at 9-9, then won, 3-0, in a shootout. Laguna's second game Friday was against Stanford and the locals posted a 10-4 win to move on to the division quarterfinals.
Laguna played always-tough Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals and came away with a 10-6 win. At 4-0, Laguna secured a spot in the semifinals. There, Laguna took on United Water Polo Club (Huntington Beach). Laguna got off to a fast start and cruised to an 11-1 victory.
The win put Laguna in the championship game where it met Santa Barbara, which defeated SOCAL Water Polo in the other semifinal, for a second time.
The championship game may have been one of the closest games in Junior Olympics history. The score was tied (2-2) after the first period, 4-4 at the half, 6-6 after the third quarter, and at 8-8 at the end of regulation. The teams went to a shootout to determine which would win the gold medal.
Both teams scored two goals in the shootout and the game went to sudden death. Delaney Gendron and Sophia Lucas made the first two goals for Laguna. Thea Walsh, who would be named MVP of the tournament, blocked the second shooter from Santa Barbara to clinch the gold medal for Laguna.
The Laguna Beach girls' 14U gold medal-winning team is: Thea Walsh, Joie Selin, Julia Rozolis-Hill, Ally Meredith, Isabel Riches, Sophia Lucas, Danielle Borelli, Kyla Whitelock, Mia Imbernino, Evan Tingler, Alana Evans and Delaney Gendron.
The team is coached by Matt Tingler and David Imbernino.
— Reader submission