Hannah Walleck, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy water polo starts strong versus Westridge

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — A light fog rolled up the hill and onto the pool deck at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy before the Tologs were set to begin their season Thursday against Westridge.

The weather elements initially caught Flintridge Sacred Heart first-year Coach Carlos Ponce off guard, leaving him to wonder how his team would respond to the strange conditions.

Ponce's concern immediately disappeared once the whistle blew, as Flintridge Sacred Heart enjoyed a big five-goal first quarter en route to a convincing 18-3 nonleague win.

“Fog can throw your mentality off and it can be hard to get up for the game,” said Ponce, who received a match-best seven goals from Hannah Walleck and four from Kelsey Gorman. “I like the way we were able to start off right away being focused and getting our shots in.

“We were able to jump on them and dictate the pace. We want to be able to make the other team adjust to what we are doing.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart clicked right from the start. Walleck, a reigning All-Mission League selection, set the tone, scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter.

Walleck said the Tologs didn't let the fog, which dissipated early in the second quarter, get them off track.

“We didn't want to worry about that,” said Walleck, a senior utility player. “We were just so focused on this being our first game and trying to start off strong.

“Our plan was to get rolling pretty quick because we didn't really know much about Westridge. It was big to have a strong first quarter.”

Walleck gave the Tologs a 3-0 lead with her second goal with 2:31 left in the opening quarter.

Westridge (0-3) couldn't put the clamps on Flintridge Sacred Heart.

“We got off to a slow start,” Westridge Coach Catherina Cluck said. “This is going to be a bit of a rebuilding year for us.

“My main focus will be toward endurance, picking up on swimming and mastering the fundamentals.”

Gorman extended Flintridge Sacred Heart's advantage to 6-0 with 4:29 remaining in the second quarter. The Tigers trimmed the deficit to 6-1 on a man-advantage goal by Chelsea Burke-Gomez with 4:09 left in the first half.

Flintridge Sacred Heart closed out the half with five goals in a row to build an 11-1 lead. Walleck scored four goals in that stretch.

“We want to be able to use Hannah's ability as a leader and show the rest of the players the way to play,” said Ponce, who previously coached at Burroughs High. “She's a great player to have out there doing that.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart scored six fourth-quarter goals to cap the victory.

Anna Porter and Devin Aubert each had a pair of goals for the Tologs, who got one apiece from Monica Montes, Athena Williams and Maddie Dulcich.

Westridge received one goal each from Elena Vega-Fujioka and Amanda Matthiessen.

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