The Hillsdale girls’ water polo team is on the brink of doing something never before done in school history: clinch a division title and a Central Coast Section playoff berth.
The Knights (9-1) stand only one game behind first place Mercy-Burlingame (10-0) in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division.
“These girls have been together for three years,” Hillsdale coach Andy Hodzic said. “They’re pretty good individually, smart and hard working.”
Hodzic is in his eighth year at the helm of the water polo program and in that time he has been focused on building a program.
“CCS is not the goal,” Hodzic said. “The goal is just to play good games.”
But one could end up equaling the other.
The Knights have three matches remaining in regular-season play, including Tuesday’s matchup at Mercy.
“They have a shallow pool,” Hodzic said. “It’s a totally different strategy.”
Two Woodside players sustained concussions when they hit their heads at the Mercy pool on Oct. 13, Hodzic said, and he is concerned about his players’ safety.
It will also be the first time the two teams have seen each other since Sept. 29.
Hillsdale has won five straight as of Thursday.
If Hillsdale claims the PAL Ocean crown, it will play in a CCS play-in game with the fifth-place team from the Bay Division.
A key to Hillsdale’s success has been the transformation of goalie Marissa Dachauer.
Dachauer saw little playing time at goalie last season and only got into a game if the Knights were trailing big.
Dachauer was not able to get much individual work in, but since Hillsdale has moved into a larger pool this season, she was been able to work on her strength, training and passing with Hodzic.
Joining Dachauer has been a core of seven players for the past three seasons.
“I would give all seven the MVP if I can,” Hodzic said. “All are responding pretty good.”
Seniors Katie Bratt, Lesley Chiang, Antonia Tribuzi, Alicia Ross, Lisette Solis, Mary Kathryn Souther are more than just members of the water polo team, Hodzic said.
Souther and Dachauer were both on the varsity basketball team that finished 17-8 last season and 5-3 in the PAL Lake.
Some of the players are also part of the softball team and are also near the top of the school academically, even doing homework at halftime of matches.
Hodzic, who has coached water polo, track and soccer, said, “This is one of the best groups I’ve ever coached.”
“They are all the time helping each other,” Hodzic said. “They are one of the nicest groups in the world.”
Hillsdale wraps up the regular season at San Mateo on Thursday and on Nov. 1 at Carlmont.