Torrey Pines makes up for last season with water polo title

The Torrey Pines girls show off their medals and plaque for winning the Southern California Regional Division III crown.
(Glae Thien)

The Torrey Pines High girls water polo team beats Mt. Carmel 8-5 to earn the Southern California Regional Division III crown


After Torrey Pines missed out on girls water polo playoffs last season, newcomers Finley McNamara and Campbell Bush helped a youthful team claim two postseason championships this year.

The Falcons followed up winning the San Diego Section Division II title by taking the Southern California Regional Division III crown with an 8-5 victory over Mt. Carmel at Rancho Bernardo High on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 25.

McNamara used the last two of her three goals to account for the only fourth-quarter scoring, while Bush made four of her 10 saves to close out the all-local match-up that started with steam coming off the pool on a cold and mostly rainy day.

“It’s awesome,’’ said McNamara, who also had a team-high six goals in 16-3 road victory over No. 1 Pasadena Poly in the semifinals. “It’s a good way to start my four years.’’

Fourth-seeded Torrey Pines (24-9) also avenged a 9-8 loss to the No. 2 Sundevils (28-6) in the only regular-season meeting between schools, who each practice at Mt. Carmel.

“I was a little nervous (to start the game), but it was fun, and I was excited,’’ said Bush, a sophomore. “We just did it for each other and definitely exceeded expectations this season.’’

Freshman Layla Weiss recorded her fourth goal with 1:41 left in the third quarter to even the score 5-5 for the Sundevils, who won this season’s Division III section title. But just 27 seconds later, Martie Cohen converted to put Torrey Pines ahead to stay.

Earlier, neither team led by more than a goal until Falcons junior Anisa Anaya scored back-to-back goals in the final minute of the first half to account for a 5-3 advantage.

“I’m super excited, and I’m excited for next year as well,’’ said Anaya, a third-year varsity player on a team with no seniors. “We had the dedication and motivation from our coaches to really push through and make this year better than any before.’’

Second-year coach Brandon Carman guided Torrey Pines, which hadn’t won a section title until this season.

“We were a little ahead of schedule as far as our growth this season,’’ Carman said. “It’s been an amazing effort. These girls have gone into every game without fear.’’

Mt. Carmel also stepped up after losing in the Division III section quarterfinals a year ago.

“It’s been a progressive, dynamic team, not relying on one person,’’ Sundevils coach Bryanna Burns said.

“Everyone has contributed, and they’ve just been growing this entire season. ...”

Goals rained in the first quarter as Torrey Pines took a 4-3 lead before the defenses took hold.

Sundevils goalie Isabella Walker finished with seven saves after entering the game in the second period.

Torrey Pines becomes the third local team to win the regional crown in Division III, which was launched in 2019.

Previous champions included Poway (2019) and Mar Vista (2020).

The Falcons also received goals from Leah Adler and Ryland Smith.

Thien is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune.