Normally, facing a four-goal deficit going into the fourth and final seven-minute period of a water polo match spells certain defeat.
But nobody bothered to tell that to members of the Miami Springs High School girls water polo team last week when the Lady Hawks hosted Goleman at the Miami Springs Community Center Pool.
Led by team captain Ellen Scott, Springs stormed back with six unanswered goals to pull out an important 14-12 win over the Gators as the win raised its overall record to 4-5 and kept it in the mix as far as a district playoff berth. And that was without two of their top scorers, Andrea and Anisa Parks, in the lineup.
The mere fact that we’re even talking about district playoffs is remarkable considering where the program has come from in recent years, including last year when the team won just twice and two years ago when they didn’t win at all.
“It’s been a real growing process for both me and the girls,” said head coach Frank Fernandez, in his fourth year running both the girls and boys programs. “I come from a family with a baseball background, so I kind of had to learn everything about the sport and coaching the kids on the fly. The one thing that I’ve done since day one is adhere to a theory of no yelling and to be very patient and offer encouragement. I owe a lot to this group of dedicated girls who have really done a great job of staying committed to the process.”
Perhaps the key to the Springs comeback against Goleman was when Fernandez pulled his goalkeeper Rebecca Beeche in favor of Irene Morales, but not because Beeche wasn’t getting the job done. Because she provided some extra offensive punch. Sure enough, she scored twice in the fourth period before freshman Danielle Clough scored the final goal with just 30 seconds left to ice the big comeback win.
“It was just a matter of staying focused and knowing that we had the capability to come back and get it done,” said Scott, who wound up with nine of her team’s 14 goals and now has a total of 27 on the season. “We’ve struggled so much in past years that it really feels good to see all of our hard work and determination starting to pay off.”
As far as the boys team is concerned? Well, let’s just say Fernandez hopefully is not out of patience. Following a 14-8 loss to Goleman, they fell to 0-9 on the season.
“Still more work to be done for sure,” said Fernandez. “But we’ll find a way.”