GIRLS' WATER POLO: ROYAL TREATMENT HIGHLANDERS GOALIE IMPRESSIVE IN SEMIS ROYAL 10, CABRILLO 5.
WESTLAKE VILLAGE - Brandy Creek stood shaking in the chilly rain after she got out of the pool. Creek claimed she was shaking almost as much in the pool, thanks to nerves rather than the cold.
Creek knew how long her senior teammates on the Royal High of Simi Valley girls' water polo team had been waiting for a chance to play for a Southern Section title and she didn't want to see them denied that opportunity in their final season. The junior goalkeeper ensured the Highlanders weren't disappointed as she turned in one of her best games of the season, making 13 saves in No. 2 Royal's 10-5 victory over No. 3 Cabrillo of Lompoc in a Southern Section Div. IV semifinal Wednesday at Westlake High.
The victory earned the Highlanders (23-7) their first berth in a final. Royal faces two-time defending champion and No. 1 seed Santa Barbara for the title Monday at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.
``Brandy really came up big and stopped them,'' Highlanders coach Devin Hurst said. ``It's a little intimidating when a goalie is blocking that well.''
Creek took up water polo just last season when she joined the core of current seniors, who have been together on varsity since they were sophomores. However, Creek played like a veteran and appeared calm and collected as she shut down the Conquistadores (22-7).
``I wasn't that calm,'' Creek said. ``I was kind of shaking a little back there.''
It didn't take long to realize that Cabrillo was the team that had reasons to be nervous. The Highlanders double-teamed the Conquistadores' leading scorer Becca Ur, forcing Cabrillo to rely on an unsuccessful perimeter game. Royal opened with a 3-0 lead and was up 7-2 by halftime.
Sharleanna Richardson scored a game-high three goals for the Highlanders. Fellow seniors Katie Harding, Christine Cruz and Melissa Dicato added two goals each.
Heather Gripp, (818) 713-3607
Cabrillo's Oonaga Hardy, right, puts the pressure on Royal's Christine Cruz in Wednesday's semifinal match.
Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer