A perfect 10.
The Sacred Heart Prep girls water polo team made it 10 Central Coast Section Division II championships in a row Saturday with a 7-3 win over Soquel at Independence High.
This was not one of Burke’s more dominant teams. The Gators finished the season 20-9 and had losses to Soquel and Leland, a couple of top public-school programs that Burke’s better teams would probably have not lost to.
Leland went on to beat St. Francis in overtime to capture the Division I crown.
The Gators wound up beating Soquel three of the four times they met and split two games with Leland.
Overall, it was a bit of a relief to emerge with that 10th consecutive CCS title.
“At times it was nerve-racking,’’ Burke said. “At times it felt like it was more about not losing than about winning, and that’s a tough position to be in. We knew Soquel beat us early in the year and not much was separating the top teams in CCS. It feels great to be ready to go in the final.’’
The Gators held Soquel scoreless in the first half and had a 2-0 lead at halftime on goals by Nadia Paquin and Layla Waters. But Soquel (22-6) got it going in the third quarter and scored three goals in a span of two minutes and 11 seconds to take the lead.
But just when emotion, momentum and control of the match appeared to be departing, SHP found an answer.
Waters scored with 1:28 left in the third quarter to tie it 3-3, and then Maddy Johnston converted a 5-meter penalty shot with 45 seconds left in the quarter to put the Gators back up at 4-3.
“The girls did an amazing job of riding out the Soquel run and sticking with the game plan,’’ Burke said.
The fourth quarter was all Gators. Naquin scored with 4:00 left, Maddie Pendolino with 3:11 to go and Addi Duvall closed out the scoring with 1:11 left.
Goalkeeper Jane Rakow had 15 saves and, except for that 2:11 span in the third quarter, pitched a shutout.
“Probably, not even probably, she turned in the best performance we've ever had from a goalie in the finals,’’ Burke said. “And we’ve had some great goalies. She was absolutely amazing.’’