Spartans gain experience

La Cañada High's girls' water polo team got its first win of the season over the weekend at the second annual Burbank Tournament.

The win came in their third game of the tournament against Hoover. Everyone got involved for the Spartans, as they rolled through the Tornadoes, 16-2.

It was La Cañada's only win of the weekend, as they lost to Alemany, 9-8, Glendale, 14-3, and El Segundo, 11-2.

"We came in here looking to gain some experience," said La Cañada Coach Josh Moser, whose team is 1-6. "It was a good weekend for us, absolutely. We're learning what to do out there."

So far, half-court defense has been La Cañada's greatest strength. Moser feels like his team will be tough to score against as long as it can prevent teams from scoring easy transition goals.

"I think we need to work on getting back on the counter quicker," La Cañada player Rita Neat said. "We need awareness, but we don't have the experience to have that awareness."

Neat provided most of the Spartans' firepower, scoring 19 of her team's 29 goals in the four-game span.

"Rita is outstanding, there hasn't been a game this year where she hasn't been the best player," Moser said.

The challenge is getting Neat better looks at the cage by getting everyone involved in offense so teams can't double-team her.

"We're playing with a really inexperienced team, and this is definitely a building year for us," Neat said. "What I'm hoping to gain from this whole entire tournament is experience and confidence for when league comes."

Emily Sullivan, the Spartans' backup goalie, proved to be La Cañada's surprise of the tournament. Sullivan was pressed into service for two of the four games and she made it count, recording eight saves and five steals. Regular goalie Shelby Powell played the other two games.

Moser was encouraged by the progress his team displayed in at the Burbank event, but thinks there is more improvement needed.

"We need to start making more plays on offense," Moser said. "A few weeks ago I would have been worried about more fundamental things, like positioning. We're coming along and if we can open up our offense and get Rita some better shots, we'll be right on track."

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