Eagles fall in wild card

ANAHEIM — The big day for the Estancia High girls' water polo team started with bad news.

The Eagles on Tuesday were going to make their first appearance in the CIF Southern Section playoffs in five seasons without their top scorer. Coach Jennifer Broderick said she learned in the morning that Ilene Umansky was out because of the stomach flu.

Estancia could have used Umansky in a Division I wild-card game at Canyon. Goals were hard to come by for the Eagles.

The Comanches shut out Estancia in the first half en route to recording a 21-2 victory and advancing to the first round. The tables are sure be reversed on Canyon today.

Canyon's reward for eliminating Estancia was a 2½-hour drive to Goleta to face defending champion and top-seeded Dos Pueblos (27-0) at 4 p.m.

"They look like they're the best team in the nation," Canyon Coach Andrew Thacker said of the Chargers.

The next matchup for the Comanches (16-13) is quite the contrast to the one against Estancia. The young Eagles (10-16) were overwhelmed in the first seven minutes, unable to withstand the Comanches' attack.

Eight players scored goals in the opening period. Goalie Kristina LePard assisted on half of the scores.

For the game, a dozen Canyon players finished with at least one goal. The only players who did not score for the Comanches were two goalies, two junior varsity players and a reserve.

Estancia posted its first goal midway through the third period. The goal most likely would not have happened if the Eagles listened to Broderick.

She yelled, "Wait!" when Estancia earned a power-play opportunity. The Eagles continued. Junior Vanessa Rodriguez sent a precise pass to sophomore Shannon Spellman down low. Spellman squeezed a shot past the goalie to cut Canyon's lead to 14-1 with 3:10 left in the third.

Getting a goal was a huge feat, especially after Estancia managed just three shots on goal before Spellman put one away.

The Eagles produced their second goal on another power-play opportunity. This time it was Danielle Ridge converting on a lob with 4:55 left to play.

Ridge, a sophomore, considers the lob her worst shot, but she was happy to end the season finishing a shot that she has been working on in practice.

Despite being on the losing side of a lopsided game, Ridge believes the playoff experience will bode well for Estancia.

"It's a big deal for us because we're such a young team," Ridge said of reaching the playoffs after placing third in the Orange Coast League. "Last year, we only won two games. We were just getting killed and killed and killed, and this year, we stepped it up.

"We were like … babies just crawling and now we're just learning the game and learning everything. We're definitely stepping up and people should start looking out for Estancia."

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