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South Valley Journal

Water Polo Swamps Competition

Aug 04, 2015 10:53AM ● By Bryan Scott

the first place trophy after defeating Brighton

By Greg James

South Valley - You have been reading that book for weeks now, and every day you wish you could jump ahead and find out the ending.  If the Herriman High School girls water polo team had known how their season was going to end, they may want to read that novel over and over again.

The Mustangs won their first state championship in girls water polo on May 30, 12-11 over Brighton High School.

“The girls’ season was amazing. They definitely earned the state championship and worked really hard. They had to come together as a team,” head coach Michael Goldhardt said.

The Mustangs held a three-goal lead going into the third quarter. Brighton was able to take advantage of some mistakes to tie the game headed into the final minutes; sophomore Abi Jacketta scored the game-winning goal.

“Abi is by far one of the best players in the state. She is short and fast and understands how to drive the ball into the cage. She has a great mind for the game,” Goldhardt said.

Herriman beat Viewmont in its first round game 22-15 to advance to the finals against Brighton.

Jacketta and upcoming senior Keira Dailey were named first team all-state by the state’s coaches, with Natalie Steenblik and Courtney Scott named second team and Ciarra Green third team. Steenblik and Green recently graduated and were the team’s captains; Goldhardt said their leadership was a big factor in the team’s success this season.

Dailey led the team in scoring with 51 goals in the regular season; Jacketta scored 29 times. Scoring was one of the strengths of the team. They scored 20 or more goals three times and scored 23 goals twice, the highest goal tally in the state this season. 

The Mustangs lost all-American goalie Erin Smalley to graduation. She holds the team record for blocks with 195. They had three freshman try to fill the void: Alexis Wheeler, Dani Harper and Jacketta. Goldhardt feels this is a spot his team could improve. “Goalies not only need to be skilled but they also help organize the defense,” he said.

Goldhardt and the coaching staff strived to make the team a sisterhood. Many times practices were cancelled for the team to gather to watch a movie, have dinner or play dodgeball.

“We had some amazingly talented athletes, but if we were not a team we were not going to win games. Being a family was a catch phrase for us. We tried to create a fun atmosphere. We learned to trust each other in and out of the water,” Goldhardt said.

The Mustangs traveled to Denver, Colo. June 19-21 to participate in the Mountain Zone Championships. They placed fourth, losing to New Mexico by one goal. They are scheduled to participate in the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics in Orange County, Calif. July 29-Aug. 2.

Goldhardt was also named Co-coach of the Year by The Utah High School Water Polo Association, along with Brighton’s John Ellis.