Leave Genevieve Weed open at your own risk.
Weed, a junior defender, is not senior teammates Pippa Saunders and Diana Murphy. She is not even junior classmates Cassidy Papa and Ally McCormick, players who have scored dozens of goals this year for the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team.
She plays a different role for the Sea Kings. Still, opponents need to be careful with leaving her open.
Weed has shown this season that she can score from the outside. The latest victim on Feb. 18 was three-time defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion Dos Pueblos.
The Chargers were doing an effective job limiting CdM at two meters. Weed stepped up. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week matched a season-high with four goals as CdM dethroned the Chargers, 9-6, in overtime.
If top-seeded CdM didn't have Weed, they weren't getting out of Goleta with a win. She scored four of her team's six goals in regulation. After Dos Pueblos had tied the score at 5-5 in the fourth quarter, she momentarily stemmed the Chargers' momentum with her fourth goal on the next possession. It was a rocket shot from the left that grazed over the head of Chargers goalie Britten Vilander.
"There's never been a doubt in anybody's mind that Genevieve's an outstanding shooter," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said after the game. "To take it a step further, there's no doubt in my mind that she's going to be given a lot of opportunities to show it off in the playoffs. We've got athletes like Pippa and Diana, Ally and Cassidy. If I were an opposing team coach, I'd probably be doing the same thing … [but] Gen knows exactly what to do."
As CdM prepares for Saturday night's Division 1 title match against Back Bay rival Newport Harbor, Weed is definitely a key piece. In the Dos Pueblos game, she said she didn't realize during the game just how much of an impact she was having. But everything she did was for the team.
"I did so much, without even realizing it," Weed said. "I just felt like I was playing my role on offense. We always try to put a shot up on all of our offensive opportunities, and that just happened to be me a lot during that game. I felt like I was playing my part on the team, and I ended up getting four [goals]."
That part on the team has evolved over the years. When she started playing water polo she was a center. When she made varsity last year, she switched to center defender. The first-year starter didn't skip a beat, and Bailey credits a lot of that to her intelligence.
Weed said her grade-point average is over 4.0. She's currently in Advanced Placement classes in U.S. History and Biology, and honors English. Weed, along with her twin sister Erica, is a USA Water Polo Academic All-American.
Genevieve Weed started playing the sport in seventh grade. Erica, who is the backup varsity goalie to Alex Musselman, joined a little more than a year later.
"That was a time that we were growing apart sort of," Genevieve Weed said. "Water polo takes up so much time. Your closest friends are on the water polo team ... She realized that I was sticking with water polo, so she decided to try it too. She liked it, and that brought us back together again."
Genevieve is soft-spoken, but she has blossomed in the water this year. Even during last summer's Junior Olympics, Bailey was raving about her defensive abilities.
"She moves well, and she sees the game very well," Bailey said. "She's a hard worker. I think she's got a good feel for the defense. She does a really nice job. Obviously, defending the center is one of the most important positions in the game, possibly second-most important to your goalie. For Genevieve to be able to handle that role in clutch situations as a junior is really impressive."
In the Dos Pueblos game, Weed was guarding sophomore Shannon Cleary, who fouled out in the first half. In Wednesday night's Division 1 semifinal, Weed was guarding Foothill freshman Cana Manzella, but Weed herself fouled out in the fourth quarter. CdM sophomore Avery Warwick stole the show, scoring the game-winning goal in the second overtime in much the same way — after the defense dropped off her.
That was fine with Weed, who said she was so happy for Warwick. It comes back to that team aspect that Weed embraces.
"We know that we have to play as a team," Weed said. "We can't just rely on our two best players; we all have to play together. We're always just focused on playing as a team, and not just strengthening one person."
Two great teams play Saturday night in the CIF championship match. Weed wants to help the Sea Kings win their first Division 1 title, and that could be on offense or defense.
She and her teammates are extremely determined.
"We know what it feels like to lose, because we thought we lost [the Dos Pueblos game]," Weed said. "We know that we never want to have to feel that again."
Born: April 20, 1995
Hometown: Newport Beach
Sport: Water polo
Coach: Sam Bailey
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: "Remember the Titans"
Favorite athletic moment: Winning the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal this year at Dos Pueblos in overtime.
Week in review: Weed tied a season-high with four goals as the Sea Kings dethroned three-time defending Division 1 champion Dos Pueblos, 9-6 in overtime, in a quarterfinal match Feb. 18.