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La Cañada girls' water polo maintains league mastery with fourth straight title

LA CAÑADA — Rayne Lopez saw firsthand what it was like to compete against the La Cañada High girls’ water polo team for two seasons.

However, she’s enjoyed playing for La Cañada since transferring from rival Temple City prior to last season.

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Lopez wanted to help La Cañada continue its dominance in the Rio Hondo League and looked to make an impact when La Cañada met Temple City on Tuesday.

Lopez finished with five goals and Madison Solares added six to help propel host La Cañada to a 20-11 victory to secure its fourth consecutive league championship.

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“I knew a lot of the La Cañada players from club,” Lopez said. “It’s always fun when La Cañada and Temple City play against each other and it’s indescribable what it’s like playing against La Cañada.

“I came to La Cañada and wanted to help continue winning league championships. I learned a lot at Temple City, but now this is my home and it’s great to win league again. I just got locked in today and found ways to contribute.”

La Cañada (17-7, 7-0 in league) completed the two-match season series sweep of Temple City (5-3 in league). The Spartans registered a 19-10 win on Jan. 15.

Lopez scored two first-quarter goals to help the Spartans, ranked No. 17 in the CIF Southern Section Division I/II poll, jump out to an early lead on Tuesday. Her second goal made it 6-1 with 3:14 left in the quarter.

Solares, a reigning All-Area selection, also had two goals in the first quarter.

“We knew coming in Temple City is a strong opponent, so we had to get out to an early lead and maintain it,” said Solares, who opened the scoring at the 20-second mark. “We figured out what we needed to do and we played good defense in the first quarter.

“Since our freshmen year, it’s been a goal to win league and we’ve now done it all four years. It’s almost like a spark to help us get ready for the playoffs.”

The Spartans held a 10-6 halftime lead and extended the advantage to 16-10 after the third quarter. Solares scored the last two goals of the third quarter.

“I think what helped us a lot was coming out fast and playing transition defense which led to a lot of counter-attacks,” La Cañada first-year coach Robert Echeverria said. “We were able to show our composure and it’s a little easier to do when you have eight seniors on the team.

“It’s great to see the program win league again. I’ve coached many of our players in club, so I knew coming in about the talent level. I just wanted to help them have a positive and successful season and we’ve accomplished one of our big goals.”

La Cañada senior goalkeeper Carolyne Stern, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Player of the Year who will attend USC in the fall, finished with 13 saves.

The Spartans got three goals apiece from Genevieve Fraipont, a reigning All-Area selection, and Tess Fundter. La Cañada received two goals from Shelby Hovanesian and one from Julia Nicholls.

The Rams got four goals from Camille Chiang and three from Nancy Trinh.

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