After the Ransom Everglades girls’ water polo team cruised to a 21-3 victory in its first-round state play-in game at home Tuesday, the Raiders didn’t celebrate after shaking hands with Miami Country Day.
They got right back in the pool and practiced their offensive sets for the next 45 minutes. When they led 13-2 at halftime, they didn’t take time to catch their breath for the final 14 minutes of play — coach Eric Lefebvre instructed his girls to swim laps.
It’s that kind of commitment that has led the Ransom girls (25-1) to win the past four state championships.
They’ll shoot for five in a row this weekend as Ransom hosts the FHSAA Finals, which begins with the state quarterfinals on Friday, at its aquatic center.
“Right now, there won’t be a day [off], even if we were playing Gulliver, we’d still be practicing,” Lefebvre said.
“We’re 100 percent committed. We’re making sure we get everything down from eating right, sleeping right and taking advantage of every minute we got.”
For the Raiders, the only thing that changes each year is what fuel the naysayers give them.
“People will always doubt. ‘Will they be able to do it again? They have a freshman goalie [Claire McDowell]. They have all these players that they graduated that were so great,’” he says. “Each one of these girls steps up to that challenge, and we’re back in the same position trying to do it again.”
Ransom’s quarterfinal match comes against Orlando Dr. Phillips, but the team’s greatest challenger should be Dade County rival Gulliver (27-1).
After years of facing one another in the play-in round after districts — with Gulliver usually giving Ransom its best match en route to the state title — the FHSAA finally realigned its postseason bracket to set up a potential final between the local private school foes.
Ransom and Gulliver handed each other the lone blemish on their records, splitting the season series 1-1, but Ransom was missing leading scorer Chelsea Johnson when it lost.
The Gulliver girls, who also call themselves the Raiders, are led by Camila Schafer and her 87 goals and 57 assists this season. Defensively, Gulliver coach Carroll Vaughan’s answer for Johnson is Katja Rocha, who has recorded over 80 steals thus far this season.
Gulliver’s boys are the defending state champs on the boys’ side, but after an up-and-down 2013 and a 26-1 season for Belen, the Wolverines appear to be the favorites to take the crown.
“Defense is the strength of our team,” Belen coach Jimmy Aguilera said in Spanish. “That’s the foundation to our strategy.”