It was two years ago today that the Palisades High girls water polo team routed Granada Hills 15-4 at Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center to advance to the City Section finals for the sixth time in seven seasons. This was a big rematch of the semifinals one year before when Leighanne Estabrook scored the tying goal with two seconds left in regulation then tallied the winning goal in overtime as the Dolphins prevailed, 8-7. This time it was all Palisades. Led by freshman Adelaide Saab, who scored the first two goals of the game and finished with four, the top-seeded Dolphins broke it wide open with seven unanswered goals in the third quarter.
Estabrook added three goals, Julia Sansing scored two and Maxine Eschger, Sydney Brouwer, Samantha Rene, Nicole Kim and Kavita Sekhon each added one. Goalies Chloe Berrisford and Jessie Taft made big saves to frustrate the Highlanders, who found themselves trailing 7-1 at halftime. Three evenings later, on Valentine’s Day, the Dolphins beat Birmingham, 13-8, at Valley College to capture their first City championship. Coach Kirk Lazaruk guided the squad to its winningest season ever that started with a streak of 18 victories in a row. The Dolphins retained the Western League crown and ended the 2018-19 season with a sparkling 25-3 record. They made it back to the section finals the next winter but were dethroned by No. 3 Birmingham in a 17-16 thriller. Only nine days later they were edged by the Patriots again in the SoCal Regional Division III semifinals after defeating Santa Fe Christian 18-6 in the opening round for the program’s first-ever win in the state playoffs.
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