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Taylorsville Journal

Cougars water polo dynasty continues with sixth-straight title

Jun 20, 2019 01:43PM ● By Justin Adams

Kearns hoisted its sixth-straight girls water polo trophy this spring. (Photo courtesy of Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

For the sixth year in a row, the girls Kearns water polo team won the state championship. Its boys team finished second after an exhilarating overtime state championship match.

“It is awesome to be state champions,” second-year Kearns head coach Seth Hughes said. “The fact that the girls played that hard, it all came together in the end after all that hard work. The boys fought hard, and it really was a battle the entire game. They played their hearts out.”

The Lady Cougars defeated Herriman 13-3 for its state title. They controlled the match from the beginning, leading 5-1 after the first period and never once looked back. Junior Camila Hatch led the way with 10 shots and six goals. She also had three steals to anchor the teams solid defense.

“Defense is definitely the key to every game,” Hughes said. “For us, it is important to make sure their strong players are matched up with our better defenders. That way, we can neutralize their offense and have our way.” 

Hatch scored 53 goals this season to lead the team. Jaclyn Taylor was second with 49, and Sissy Baum netted 42. The juniors led the high-powered Cougar offense. 

“Camila (Hatch) is such a stud,” Hughes said. “She is such a great player and an offensive powerhouse. She did really well. In the championship match, Addie Robison, our center defender, had a great game as well. She always has the task of blocking up their main person.”

The championship is the sixth straight for the lady Cougars.

In the boys final, the Cougars battled to the wire against Park City. They trailed by four goals with less than four minutes to play. A fierce comeback mounted, and with 30 seconds remaining, they tied the contest. Kearns’ final defensive stand forced overtime.

In overtime, the contest seesawed back and forth, and Park City plated its final two goals to capture the victory. 

“It just did not go our way in the end,” Hughes said.

Hayden Simmons served as the team’s center defender. He amassed 52 steals to lead the team this season.

“Canyon Serva matched up against the MVP of the state in the championship game, and a lot of times, he drew our opponents’ best player,” Hughes said. “That is never an easy task.”

Hughes also praised the efforts of Mitch Pearson, saying he “has played lights out for us.” 

Pearson led the team with 65 goals this season; Cerva was second with 53.

The dedication involved for these players is evident. Hughes noted they spend many hours preparing.

“It is a huge commitment,” Hughes said. “A lot of these kids are in the water 16 hours a week. In the offseason, they play with club teams; it is a huge part of their lives. The parents are great; they get them to practices at all hours of the day so they can play.” 

Ryan Frehse and Lily Plaudis received outstanding male and female students awards on senior awards night at the high school. 

“So many of these kids do so many great things that it is hard to nail them down and remember them all,” Hughes said.

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