Putting its perfect record on the line, the MAST Academy girls’ water polo team proved worthy of its lofty standing on Saturday morning as the Makos cruised past Dr. Krop 16-7 in a state play-in game at MAST.
And with the win, MAST (18-0) advances to state for only the second time in program history and first since 2007.
“Look at this, 18-0 — what can be better than that?” a soaking wet MAST coach Alfredo Cancelo said after getting dumped in the pool by his players. “These girls have worked very hard all season for this moment and it’s like a dream come true. And even though we’re undefeated, we’ll be the underdog going into state next week with the likes of Lake Nona and Ransom Everglades, so I really kind of think the pressure is off us now.”
Lake Nona (Orlando) will be MAST’s first round opponent Friday in a state quarterfinal match at Ransom Everglades.
Led by junior Cara Mullery, MAST jumped out to a 4-1 lead on the Lightning (16-11) after one period, led 10-4 at the half and coasted in the second half. Mullery wound up with six goals, bringing her season total to a team-leading 91.
“Krop is a lot faster than most of the teams we’ve faced this year so we worked hard and concentrated on our swimming speed and did a lot of training this week and I think that helped us a lot [Saturday],” Mullery said. “I think a little less pressure on us now because people might not be expecting us to do much now that the competition really gets tough so we’re just going to go in there and give it our all.”
▪ Krop boys 13, Miami Country Day 5: Looking to punch a second-ever berth in the state tournament and first since 2005, the Dr. Krop boys’ water polo team got the job done as the Lightning jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 13-5 victory over Miami Country Day at the MAST Academy pool.
Krop will take on Orlando Lake Nona in a state quarterfinal at Ransom-Everglades next Friday.
“Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork,” said Krop head coach Ann Gordon emphatically. “They all wanted it really bad and they worked hard as a team. Communicated as a team and did a good job of finding the open man. Getting out to an early lead was very important as it allowed us to dictate the rest of the way. I’m really proud of the boys.”
Even though he only scored three of his team’s 13 goals, Mohammad Alsabbagghe still keyed the win for Krop (22-6) as the team’s leading scorer who went into the game with 115 goals on the season constantly drew double and triple team attention, freeing things up for his teammates.
Sure enough, the scoring column was shared evenly as seven other Krop players scored, Blake Edwards, Alan Buenos and J.C. Borquez each scoring twice.
“It’s been a long time for Krop boys water polo and it feels great to get this thing done today,” said Alsabbagghe. “It wasn’t about me or any one player, it was about us as a team and we’re looking forward to state and to try and keep this thing going.”
▪ Cypress Bay girls 6, Suncoast Community 4: This was the second time Cypress Bay senior water polo captain Jessica Modrak has cried after a win.
The first was a regular-season win over Pembroke Pines Charter in which the Lightning finally got over the hump to win an overtime game.
"And then I got asked to prom after that game, so then I really cried," Modrak said. "I was done. I was too emotional."
Modrak’s tears had much more to do with water polo as her three goals helped the Lightning hold off Suncoast Community 6-4 in a single-elimination state play-in game at Weston Regional Park.
Cypress Bay (9-2) advanced to the state quarterfinals against St. Andrew’s on Friday at Ransom Everglades. This is the first time since 2007 that the Lightning has reached the state quarters.
In addition to Modrak, the Lightning got one goal each from Nicole Rodriguez, Olivia Howard and Andrea Vallejo.
Cypress Bay built a 5-2 lead but things got tense when Suncoast closed to 5-2 in the final quarter. Howard, though, scored with 2:27 left to help put the game away.
After the game ended, the tears of joy flowed.
"This was supposed to be a rebuilding year," Modrak said. "We lost 12 seniors from last year. … To get to state is exactly what a captain aspires to achieve. I’m so proud of how all the girls worked together this year. It’s been a great season."
▪ St. Andrews girls 6, Westminster Academy 5: The host Lions (14-4) led 3-0 in the first quarter, but St. Andrew’s battled back to take a 6-5 lead in the third, and neither team scored in the fourth.
The Lions were led by senior Koral LaStella, who had three goals, eight steals and three blocks, and sophomore Naomi Sanders, who added two goals and five steals. Lions goalie Emily Stevenson, a senior, made 16 saves.
▪ Cypress Bay boys 17, Suncoast Community 3: Arturo Sreitas had eight goals and Bryce Biggs added three as the Lightning advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they will play St. Andrews on Friday at Ransom Everglades.
Cypress Bay (7-7) split its goalie duties between Jonathan Rivas (12 saves, three goals allowed) in the first half and Andres Schmidt (13 saves, no goals allowed) in the second half.
The Lightning led 12-3 at half and then completely shut down Suncoast.
▪ St. Andrews boys 17, Westminster Academy 2 – The host Lions (14-6) fell behind 10-0 before getting a third-quarter goal from Jesse Bibbey. Their only other goal came from Jason Woodburn.