NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Thrown right into the deep end for its season opener on Tuesday, the Hoover High girls' water polo team found it hard to stay afloat right from the beginning of its nonleague match against visiting Culver City.
The Tornadoes' inexperience showed on both ends of the pool, as the team failed to record a shot attempt in the first quarter while giving up nine goals. The match would continue much along the same lines, ending in a 24-2 defeat.
"We had, I think, three returning varsity players and about four returning JV players and four girls that this was their first water polo game ever," said Hoover Coach Kevin Witt, who got goals from Piouneh Garabidian and Se Yeon Kim. "All things considered, I think we know what we need to work on and I think we're doing fine."
Culver City put the ball in the cage within seconds of winning the opening sprint and scored on its first four possessions, mostly on taking counter-attacks straight up the pool and through a Tornadoes defense that couldn't react fast enough to cut off the ball.
Kristina Canchola Martinez scored four goals in the opening period, en route to finishing with a match-high eight.
Culver City (1-0) had pushed the lead up to 12-0 before Garabidian scored from the right side on a man-advantage opportunity with 4:34 left in the second quarter.
Although they were outscored, 10-1, in the second half, the Tornadoes already seemed to make some progress over the final two quarters. They got three shots on goal in the third, two coming from Kim, and goalkeeper Jasmine Trinidad recorded six of her seven saves in the fourth quarter, in which Culver City was held to four goals.
Kim scored on a perimeter shot to beat the shot clock with six seconds remaining in the match.
"[We need to work on being] comfortable with grabbing and being grabbed, understanding game situations and why things happen," Witt said. "Not just what you're supposed to do, but why you do it."