Sofia Rice and Sey Currie have this habit of finishing each other’s sentences.
That’s not an accident for the Costa Mesa High senior and junior, respectively.
“We’re just like two peas in a pod,” Rice said with a smile.
Both began playing for Costa Mesa Aquatics Club on a coed team several years ago. Cody Serrano, who has coached the two players on both the high school and club levels with his twin brother Dustin, believes the cohesiveness that Rice and Currie show outside of the water also lends itself to the matches.
They are co-captains for the Mustangs girls’ water polo team this season.
“That’s why I believe they’re more talented than most of the athletes on our team, and they’re captains and leaders,” Cody Serrano said. “It’s because they were playing up with the boys for a long time, until we got a girls’ team here.”
Rice, a four-year varsity starter, certainly wants to end her high school water polo career with a bang. She and the Mustangs overcame a bit of a slow start Wednesday, beating Marina 16-4 in a nonleague match at home.
Rice and sophomore Michelle Kiefer each scored five goals for Costa Mesa (4-5), while junior Taiuta Uiagalelei and Currie had three goals each. Senior goalkeeper Rianne Baesman made seven saves.
Sophomores Sadie Beazley and Hannah Jackson combined for five steals for the Mustangs.
All four goal-scorers Wednesday were returning starters for Costa Mesa, which appears primed for a big season. With Laguna Beach leaving the Orange Coast League for the Surf League, the Mustangs are favorites to win their first league title since 2004. They are also ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division 5.
The Mustangs, who open league at home against Santa Ana on Thursday, were able to bounce back from a 17-7 loss at San Juan Hills on Tuesday. They led Marina just 1-0 late in the first quarter, but pulled away with their counterattack and conditioning.
“Coming off the loss, we were kind of nervous,” Rice said. “We were like, ‘Oh, we have to play really hard today.’ The nerves really got to us in the first quarter, but I feel like at the end we stepped it up.”
Cody Serrano said the Mustangs made a change, putting Kiefer at the center position. She has mostly played a defensive role in her time on varsity, but she responded with the five goals.
“I think we found what works, having Sey and Taiuta play on the ‘four-five’ side with each other, and having Sofia kind of command the ‘one-two’ side and Michelle going into center,” Serrano said. “It worked great. Hopefully we can continue in this path and work on different set plays with them, but as of right now it was awesome to see Michelle do that. We haven’t seen Michelle do that in a long time.”
Marina (6-5), which got two goals from junior Rianne Gear and one each from junior Makenna Reynolds and sophomore Maddie Clobes, is also a team on the rise. Coach Tamara Towgood’s Vikings, who have no seniors on the varsity roster, won the inaugural Westminster tournament on Saturday. They already have more wins than their 4-20 campaign a year ago. Freshman Lana Kardos, who had a tough match Wednesday with Rice guarding her and ended up fouling out, has been another offensive threat for Marina.
Junior goalkeeper Emma Marsh, a three-year starter, had a standout match against Costa Mesa with 19 saves.
“Last year was hard for us, with a lot of drama with seniors and everything,” Marsh said. “This year is off to a better start … There are only three juniors on the team, and the majority of the team is sophomores. It will be really cool to train the sophomores up, so they’ll be ready when they take a senior position.”