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Top-seeded Costa Mesa girls’ water polo begins CIF playoffs with rout of Los Amigos

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Costa Mesa’s Michelle Kiefer takes a shot under pressure from Los Amigos’ Marliyn Castillo in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs at home Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Kira Anderson has a real chance to break the Costa Mesa High girls’ water polo single-season goal record as a freshman.

Anderson scored six goals Tuesday, and the top-seeded Mustangs routed Los Amigos 20-5 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs at home. That brought her season total to 104 goals, which is second in Costa Mesa’s single-season annals.

Only Sarah Bowman, who scored 121 goals in 2005, has more. Anderson, who also had three assists Tuesday, scored all but one of her goals on the counterattack.

“We’re happy to have her here,” Costa Mesa coach Dustin Serrano said. “Her speed is amazing. Her speed is one of her biggest keys, but then she has a lot of other fundamentals that go with years of water polo and the time she’s put in the pool. She’s put the work in, and it shows.”

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Costa Mesa’s Kira Anderson takes a shot against Los Amigos’ Marliyn Castillo in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Besides Anderson’s individual pursuit, this season’s team also has a shot to be the most successful in program history. Orange Coast League champion Costa Mesa (21-6) plays at Norco (16-11) on Thursday in a second-round match, and a win would launch the Mustangs into the quarterfinals for the first time.

Norco, an at-large team from the Big VIII League, beat Cypress 12-9 in another first-round match Tuesday.

Costa Mesa was able to show off its depth against Los Amigos (6-13), which was a Division 7 finalist just two years ago. The Lobos finished tied for third in the Garden Grove League this season.

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Senior center Ta’iuta Uiagalelei and junior defender Michelle Kiefer each scored three goals for the Mustangs, who led 8-1 after the first quarter and 15-1 at halftime. Junior co-captain Hanna Jackson and sophomore Gabby Hayes each scored twice.

Senior co-captain Sey Currie, junior Kayla Chaffins, senior Ivana Garcia and freshman Mikaela Smith each had one goal for Costa Mesa. Currie led the winners with four steals.

The Mustangs got one save and two assists from senior goalkeeper Malia Tufuga in the first half and four saves from freshman goalkeeper Dharma Andreas in the second half.

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Costa Mesa’s Gabby Hayes shoots and scores against Los Amigos goalkeeper Jasmine Crosthwaite (1) in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We have a little squad we like to call ‘the goon squad,’” Jackson said. “We love them. When they go in, the game’s always fun. Everyone on our team, even the subs as you get deeper, can play well. We’re excited to have them here for CIF.”

Going forward, Serrano knows the road to the title won’t be easy. The Mustangs started the season unranked in Division 5, but they have held down the top spot in the poll since winning the Gold Division of the Diamond Bar tournament on Jan. 11.

“From being the hunters, now we’re the hunted,” he said. “The girls have had a good couple [of] solid practices. It’s been really great. The girls have all put work in. They all understand it’s not time to start taking it easy, it’s time to go harder and grind harder.”

Marilyn Castillo scored three goals for Los Amigos, while goalkeepers Jasmine Crosthwaite and Veronica Nava combined for five saves. Jade Tirado and Madeline Reyes also scored.

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Castillo, a senior and three-year varsity player, was a member of the 2018 CIF finalist team. She got a bit emotional after the final whistle.

“I was proud of [my teammates],” Castillo said. “Other teams would probably give up after the first quarter, because we were [down 8-1]. But yeah, they kept on going. On our [quarter] break, we just started saying we should make it count, because this was going to be our last time in the water together. Being a part of a team is something really great.”

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Los Amigos’ Jade Tirado beats Costa Mesa’s Sey Currie to the ball in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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