Four years ago today the Palisades High girls water polo team played three games in a span of four hours to wrap up the Covina Classic, finishing the two-day tournament with a 2-3 record under Kirk Lazaruk—the Dolphins’ fourth head coach in as many seasons. Palisades went on to win the Western League title and earned the No. 1 seed in the City Section playoffs for the first time. The Dolphins racked up 53 goals in their first three postseason contests but managed only one in an 8-1 defeat to Eagle Rock in the championship game Feb. 18 at Valley College.
Alena Sanchez tallied five goals and Jahmea Bent made 18 saves for the third-seeded Eagles, who won their fifth City title in six years and improved to 92-1 against City opponents since their dynasty began in 2011. Au, who would go on to a collegiate career at Whittier, scored the Dolphins’ only goal on a five-meter shot 75 seconds into the contest. It was the fourth finals loss in five seasons for Palisades, which was led by seniors Au, Yasmin Ansari, Clara Saab, Lilly Ramos, Elli Blake, Jennifer Garcia, Katie Margiotta and goalie Rachel Dean. The 2016-17 campaign also marked the first year Palisades fielded a junior varsity team. Palisades would finish with an identical 18-7 record the following year, falling to Eagle Rock 9-8 in the City finals after having rallied for four goals in three minutes to pull even late in the fourth quarter. In 2018-19, the Dolphins finally captured their first City crown with a 13-8 triumph over Birmingham in the finals. The third time was a charm for Lazaruk, who piloted Palisades to a program-record 25 wins—including 18 in a row to start the season—and a CIF SoCal Regional playoff berth.
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