Testing the Water

Pali High Girls Finish Fourth at Burbank Tournament

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

It is not where you are at the start of the season, it is where you are at the end that matters.

That was part of the message Palisades High girls water polo coach Kirk lazaruk gave his team on the pool deck last Saturday following the third-place game of the Burbank Tournament.    

The Dolphins rallied to score three goals in the last two and a half minutes of regulation before falling to Monrovia in overtime, 14-13, and settling for fourth place with a 2-2 record after going undefeated to win the tournament championship last season.

“We’re a work in progress, we have players getting used to new positions and we’re not yet at full strength,” said Lazaruk, who led the Dolphins to their first City title last winter. “We’ve only had five practices so right now it’s all about improving and getting in the water so we can work on things.”

It will be difficult to top what the Dolphins accomplished last year when they not only captured the section crown but reeled off a school-record 18 straight victories and poured in 393 goals on their way to a sparkling 25-3 record. If the team defends its City title that will cement the legacy of players like senior Leighanne Estabrook, who scored the tying goal against Monrovia off a pass from Maxine Eschger with 38 seconds left.

“The dynamic is different this year but once you win you’re hungry for the next one,” said Estabrook, who bonded during club season with Pali High teammates Eschger, Elyana Goren, Sydney Brouwer and Sophie Levy. “Since last year I’ve been working on my defense. It hasn’t sunk in yet that it’s my last year. It’s gone by fast.”

Palisades got off to a fast start last Thursday with a 21-4 victory over Mayfield and a 16-8 triumph over Arcadia. The Dolphins nearly came back from a six-goal deficit in the semifinals but lost to West Torrance 13-11. Eschger (six goals), Estabrook (five goals) and Levy (six saves) led the way against Monrovia.     

“Sophie [Levy] has stepped in to play goalie for us and it’s on-the-job training,” Lazaruk said.

Palisades is set to open Western League play next Wednesday against LACES at Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center.