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Surprising Spartans on the verge of a state berth
The Cinderella story continues for the Bainbridge Spartans girls water polo team.
Bainbridge may nearly have punched its ticket for the ball with a 11-8 win over previously undefeated Franklin on Wednesday at Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center.
It was a close match throughout, and Bainbridge grabbed a lead late in the second half and withstood a gallant comeback attempt by the first-place Rough Riders.
The Spartans won despite the loss of one goalie. Kayla Estes suffered a broken nose and a concussion in earlier action against Emerald Ridge.
“She’s improving,” Keller said.
Julia Griffiths has since filled in as both the deep- and shallow-end goalie.
“She’s doing amazingly well. However, she’s also an incredible player in the field. She’s one of our best offensive players when she’s in there,” he said.
That said, the Spartans’ limited roster has given other players a chance to make an impact.
Keller noted the contributions of junior Celia Chaussable, for one.
“She just stepped up and had an awesome game today,” he said. “She had a fantastic game.”
Chaussable scored four goals in the victory.
“She’s becoming a huge part of our offense this year.
She’s a really smart player, and she’s starting to put it all together,” Keller said.
The win against Roosevelt followed a road win against 4-3 win over Bellevue and a 9-5 victory over Emerald Ridge, the game where Estes was lost to injury.
“It was amazing. She blocked three in a row,” Keller said.
Two shots hit Estes in the head, and one broke her nose.
“It was one of the most impressive displays of toughness I’ve seen from an athlete,” Keller said.
The coach noted she has broken her nose in the past, in softball.
“She’s not afraid of the ball,” he said.
Against Roosevelt, great passing proved pivotal, the coach said, as well as team defense.
“Our team defense has really been our strong point since early on,” he said.
“We’re really starting to play with each other on defense the way we do on offense.”
The Spartans have three games left in the regular season.
BHS will face Mercer Island for its final home game on Monday, followed by Newport on the road.
The top two teams from each league get an automatic berth to state. A wild card tourney will be held for the remaining slots for state.
Bainbridge is in the hunt. And it’s quite a turnaround for a team that only won one game last year.
“We’re not out of the woods. But after today, baring any major mishaps, we’ll enter into the wild card tournament.”
“It looks like we’ll stack up pretty well against our wild card opponents. But, you never know,” he added.