Gonzalez carries Sacred Heart past Rebels

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Olivia Gonzalez noticed a change.

What the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy senior water polo player wanted to do was become an instant offensive force. She certainly became one in a hurry.

Gonzalez scored eight goals, including six in the second quarter, to help spark host Flintridge Sacred Heart to a 12-2 nonleague win against neighborhood rival Flintridge Prep on Wednesday afternoon.

The teams were locked in a 1-1 tie before Gonzalez observed early in the second stanza that Flintridge Prep’s defense had been changed to a zone. Gonzalez scored all six of her team’s second-quarter goals in less than five minutes to help the Tologs (1-1) pull away from the Rebels (0-1).

“They backed off a little defensively, and I think that gave us an advantage,” said Gonzalez, a hole/set who earned All-Mission League first-team honors following a 41-goal season last year. “As soon as we got into our positions [to start the second quarter], we got some open space.

“My teammates passed me the ball well.”

And Gonzalez rewarded her teammates by putting the ball in the back of the cage.

Flintridge Prep Coach Alex Supple praised Gonzalez’s effort.

“She’s good because she’s strong and confident with her shooting,” said Supple, whose team registered a 3-0 home win against Flintridge Sacred Heart last season. “We came out with a new defense and they shot the ball well from the outside.

“They got some good shots. We started three girls who never played water polo before. We’ll get in shape and get our defense together.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior driver Lauren Shonka with three minutes left in the first quarter. Flintridge Prep goalkeeper Patricia McGown, a reigning All-Prep League first-team member, scored to make it 1-1 with 6:19 remaining in the second quarter.

Gonzalez then got started by tallying her first goal to make it 2-1 with 6:05 left in the opening half. She completed her hat trick on a close-up shot with 4:12 left to make it 4-1. Gonzalez then scored her final three goals in the second quarter in a 95-second span to give the Tologs a 7-1 halftime advantage.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s Shaylyn Stanley, who was named to the all-league second team last season, got in on the scoring act when she lofted a shot past McGown to make it 8-1 with 6:28 left in the third quarter.

Shonka finished with two goals for the Tologs, who got one from Katy Thomson.

Gonzalez said she would like to see the Tologs build off Wednesday’s performance.

“We really want to be more aggressive on defense and then have it run into our offense,” Gonzalez said. “We will see good teams again in our league.”

Flintridge Prep, which got 21 saves from McGown, got one goal from Elaine Park.

Get in touch CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or charles.rich@latimes.com.

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