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The Pennsylvania girls start their Water Polo State Championship title quest on Friday, Nov 3rd at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but suffice to say that if any team other than North Penn wins it all, it will be a big upset. That does not mean that things will come easy for the Lady Knights. The field behind them is one of the most competitive and evenly matched in years. There is no telling who amongst the 2, 3, 4, or 5 seed will make it to finals this year. They all have traded close games throughout the year. For these teams, it will come down to that slight edge gained by hitting their taper right or by a hot goaltender or by that goal or two from the unexpected player. Here is a quick roundup of the teams and first-round matchups
Game 1: Cumberland Valley vs North Allegheny
Game 2: North Penn vs Upper Dublin
Game 3: Governor Mifflin vs Villa Maria
Game 4: Wilson vs Souderton
#2 Cumberland Valley vs #7 North Allegheny
The Cumberland Valley girls are the only team to take down North Penn on the year, and that must give them great confidence that, if there is an upset for the title this year, it will be them doing the upsetting. As the #2 overall seed, they do not have to face North Penn until the finals (should they make it). Senior co-captain Kayla Barone will lead the Lady Eagles as she has done for years. She can take games over and create mismatches at every position in the pool. The Eagles have a great coach who has been to this dance many times and knew how to win.
The Eagles opponent, North Allegheny, can make this game competitive and would love nothing more than to pull off the upset. They have played CV close early in games, but have not been able to sustain throughout games. They will need their best game of the year to pull off the “shock the world” upset.
#1 North Penn vs #8 Upper Dublin
Upper Dublin won their play-in game to reach the state tournament. Their program is newer on the state stage, but no doubt on the rise as they continue to leverage a great swimming tradition into the sport of water polo. No surprise that a younger program has relied greatly on a younger player – goalie Jasmine Thek – to help get them to where they are. The Freshman goalie is a nice young talent that will be great to watch develop. But, of course, she and her teammates will face a mature, experienced and relentless attack from North Penn.
The Lady Knights have the best cast of athletes, the best size, best strength and the state’s top goaltender. They have one of the state’s top freshman in Kaelan Daly, and one of the state’s top players in Senior Meave Wydan, a dominant 2-meter player. North Penn will get you with their motion, outside shooting or 2-meter play. They are that versatile.
#4 Governor Mifflin vs #5 Villa Maria
This will be an interesting game as both teams have made a mark on the year with wins over higher seeds. Governor Mifflin owns a victory over #3 seed and conference foe Wilson. Villa Maria’s signature win came against #2 seed Cumberland Valley. Both teams are incredibly opportunistic and at times can be streaky. The Mifflin girls tough, physical and balanced. They have some solid Senior leadership that will ensure a close, competitive game throughout.
Villa Maria will feature Julia Bradford who leads the team in most major statistical categories. Villa likes to keep games low scoring and always seem to score in bunches at some point in games. The Western Conference champions have the best chance to pull off the first round upset.
#3 Wilson vs #6 Souderton
Wilson has an interesting path in the tournament that can be equally challenging and rewarding. As the #3 seed, they have the valuable benefit of not facing North Penn until the end, if they make it that far. But, for that benefit, they must play two tough opponents in Souderton in round 1 and CV in round 2 (should everyone get through the first round as seeded). Wilson owns a win over Souderton on the year and – as always – Wilson teams can beat anyone at state tournament time. They play a solid, tenacious team game that may not see them blow anyone out. But will also see them be competitive in every game.
The #6 seed Souderton girls have a signature win over #5 Villa and refuse to lay down to any opponent. They will be championed by Senior KK Hershey. Souderton will be up for the Wilson game and should keep it close as they just seem to find a way to manufacture opportunities throughout games. Either team can win this game.