With some standout returning stars alongside several new players, both the boys and girls water polo teams at Yosemite High School are looking to make a run in the playoffs this year.
At 4-4 overall thus far, Yosemite’s girls team has one of the strongest scorers in the North Sequoia League in junior Sophie McGoldrick. With 42 goals, McGoldrick is averaging more than five goals every game.
“McGoldrick is making a name for herself in the field this year after two amazing years as goalkeeper,” said Michelle Burton, head coach of the girl’s team. “We are looking forward to seeing much more from this young lady.”
Against Madera South at home on Sept. 14, McGoldrick was unstoppable as she notched 11 of the team’s 14 goals in a 14-8 victory. Also on the scoreboard for Yosemite were junior Randi Johnson with two goals and four assists, and junior Macy Bazzar who made one goal. Johnson leads the team with 16 assists so far this year, followed by McGoldrick with 15 - and 22 steals, a team high - and junior Grace Fries with 10 assists.
To replace McGoldrick in front of the net, freshman Faith Spangler has taken over, Burton said, and comes to the team with experience and determination. Spangler has recorded 77 saves thus far this year.
Senior captains Nikki Johnson and Carina Lusk return to help round out the team, Burton said, and despite some injuries, the team is looking forward to hosting Sierra High School on Sept. 26 at home in a rivalry matchup.
Returning players on the girls team include both Randi and Nikki Johnson, McGoldrick, Lusk, Bazzar, and junior Abby Williams. New to the team this year are Spangler, freshman Josiah Waltner, Fries, and sophomores Loralee Bergdall and Ruby Smith.
“The girls have a very strong team and are looking very strong for playoffs and winning league this year,” Burton said. “As long as everyone stays healthy and continues to work together, they will definitely be making a name for themselves.”
On the boys side, the team is led in scoring by junior Sage Crosswhite (29 goals) and sophomore Josh Johnson (22).
With a 7-10 record overall, the boys team is in a rebuild year, O’Neill said, after they lost seven seniors.
“Our captains Burke Stewart, Justin Talley, both seniors, and Crosswhite have motivated and kept this team from losing focus,” head coach Patricia O’Neill said. “Goalkeeper Nathaniel Mulkey has really stepped up too in replacement of Dylan Thacker, who was among the top in D-II last year.”
Against Los Banos on the road Sept. 16, the boys won 13-8 with four goals from both Talley and Johnson, along with two goals from freshman Lasen Andrews and a goal each from Crosswhite and freshman Colby Stewart. Talley also notched four assists, but Crosswhite leads the team with 14 assists so far on the year.
Returning for the boys team this year are sophomore Mulkey, Johnson, senior Dustin Leroy, Stewart, sophomore Michael Bhalla, junior Joseph Dudley, sophomore Michael King, Crosswhite, and Talley.
New on the team this year are sophomore Joseph Sandifer, Stewart, freshman Matthew Dudley, freshman Lasen Andrews, freshman Jacob Conti, and freshman Matthew Spear.
“They will definitely have to fight for their wins from here on out but they have the potential to get to the playoffs,” O’Neill said.
“These kids show up every day wanting to learn, be in the pool, and help each other out,” O’Neill said of both teams. “These are the best kids on campus to be coaching ... it is honestly very humbling to us coaches to know that we get to be a part of their memories and growth.”