Girls' Water Polo: Weed revels in CdM's CIF title win

Going into the CIF Southern Section Division 1 girls' water polo championship match, of course Corona del Mar High senior Erica Weed wanted to win.

But the thoughts of Weed, the senior goalkeeper, went a bit deeper than that.

Corona del Mar had never won a Division 1 title in program history. That fact definitely was not lost on someone as intelligent as Weed, who carries a 4.2 grade-point average at CdM.

"I was thinking about all of the other teams before us who brought us into Division 1, then who brought us to the semis, and last year's team who brought us all the way to the finals," Weed said. "Now, we had that same opportunity, going into the finals. I was thinking about how if we win, it would be for all of the teams in the past. It was a really big moment for us."

Weed shined in that moment at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center on Feb. 23. She was the anchor of a stifling defense as CdM rallied for a 6-5 victory over rival and defending champion Newport Harbor.

Weed, a co-captain for CdM, was overjoyed in the moment after the final buzzer sounded. There is a picture of her celebrating with her teammates, unleashing a huge fist pump that would make Tiger Woods proud.

"She came up with major save after major save," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said. "I'm just proud to see her succeed, with all of her hard work and dedication."

For Weed, the story started nearly four years earlier, when she took up the sport of water polo in eighth grade. Her twin sister Genevieve, a defender for CdM, is two minutes older than Erica. Genevieve also was the first of the twins to pick up water polo, but soon Erica began playing the sport.

She started as a field player. That changed in her freshman year at CdM, when the junior varsity team needed a goalie. Erica volunteered, but there was just one problem.

"We had our break," she said. "I decided to become a goalie, we had practice for one day, then we had that whole entire [winter] break. During that whole entire break, I was trying to practice to figure out the technique, but I was all by myself. That was really tough. I was questioning whether I actually wanted to do it."

Now she can be glad she stuck with it. She has been accepted to the University of Hawaii at Manoa and would like to play water polo there, though she's still waiting to hear back from UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego for academics.

In all facets, Erica Weed is a hard worker. She has to be one in water polo, where she is not one of the more physically imposing goalies at 5-foot-7 and without particularly long arms. But she constantly was driven to get better, even while playing on JV all the way through her junior year.

That was understandable to Weed. CdM had a three-year varsity starter, Alex Musselman, at the goalie position.

"It allowed [Erica] to develop a level of humility, which I think is really important for any person in a leadership position," Bailey said. "You can't ask much more from a teammate or a team captain."

Musselman was considered one of the best goalies in CIF by her junior year. Now at UCLA, she was the 2011 Newport-Mesa Player of the Year.

"She was definitely a role model for me," Weed said. "Training with her, she pushed me harder everyday. I loved being around her, I loved talking to her. She pushed me, because she knew that I was going to be taking over after she left."

Weed did that this year, on her way to 187 saves. What that number doesn't count is the amount of times that Weed sparked the counterattack with her precise passes to speedy players like seniors Cassidy Papa (the other co-captain), Ally McCormick and Greek twin transfers Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis.

CdM scored three of its six goals in the Division 1 final on the counterattack.

Weed definitely was an important piece for CdM. The comparisons to Musselman were natural, or even to her counterpart across the bay, Newport Harbor junior goalie Cleo Harrington. But Weed didn't let outside expectations bother her.

"With Gen as my twin, since we do the same things, we always get compared," Erica Weed said. "I just don't even worry about it, as long as I do my best and I'm satisfied with myself. I try not to worry about what other people think, when comparing me to Cleo or Alex. They definitely are really good goalies. I just try to be the best that I can."

That last sentence was the key part. Maybe that's why her teammates voted her as a captain before the year, although she said she was surprised. She typically is soft-spoken.

"I hadn't really been telling everybody that I really wanted to be a team captain," Weed said. "I hadn't been like advertising, but it ended up that the majority voted for me. I was really surprised, but I was really happy with it. It made me realize that I guess everyone respected me and looked up to me, and wanted me to be a team captain."

Erica might be going different places after high school than Genevieve, who wants to play polo at UC Berkeley. But this year they were crucial parts of the Sea Kings' defense.

And there will be other great thoughts that Erica Weed has, years down the road, about how she helped her high school team make history.

"I was sort of in shock [after the game]," she said. "It took me a while to realize that we are done with the season, and we were the only team that ended our season with a [Division 1] win. It was really cool. It showed that all the hard work paid off."

Erica Weed

Born: April 20, 1995

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-7

Year: Senior

Sport: Water polo

Coach: Sam Bailey

Favorite food: Blueberry bagel

Favorite movie: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

Favorite athletic moment: Helping CdM win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title.

Week in review: Weed, a senior goalie and co-captain, had six saves as the Sea Kings beat rival Newport Harbor, 6-5, in the Division 1 title match Feb. 23. She also had 10 saves in CdM's 10-9 semifinal victory over Foothill in overtime.

Twitter: @mjszabo

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