The streak is over for the Gig Harbor High School girls water polo team.
Gig Harbor lost in this year’s state championship game to Curtis on May 26 at the Curtis Aquatic Center, 8-5, ending Gig Harbor’s streak of four consecutive state titles.
The Tides were never able to figure out the Vikings this spring, as Curtis swept Gig Harbor in all three games between the two teams in the 2018 season. Gig Harbor ended the season with a 25-3 record, undefeated against teams other than Curtis.
“The Vikings had some gifted athletes and good coaching,” Gig Harbor coach Mike Kelly said. “The two teams always match up pretty well and this game was no different.”
Nina Neira got things off to a good start for Gig Harbor, scoring the game’s first goal in the first quarter. Jayden Moomaw scored again for Gig Harbor and the Tides led 2-1 after the first period. But things unraveled in the second quarter, when Curtis scored five goals, four of them by Emily van Zonneveld, giving Curtis a 6-2 halftime lead.
Gig Harbor was never able to recover, as Curtis slowed down the play and used up time in the second half.
“I know (Curtis) worked hard to get to the championship game and they’re very deserving of the title,” Kelly said. “The Tides athletes took the loss in stride. There was no bitterness or disrespect, it was good sportsmanship all around. … (We) failed to capitalize on several man up opportunities, as well as score on shots that narrowly missed. That is all part of the game. In the end the Vikings made less mistakes and were the best team.”
Gig Harbor connected on only five shots out of 28, giving Gig Harbor a lackluster 17.8 percent shooting percentage in the game.
Gig Harbor was expected to take a step back this season after losing All-Americans and four-year starters Alana Ponce and Olivia Lott to graduation, who are now playing at the collegiate level.
Gig Harbor’s Katie Ward and Jenna Anderson were named to the all-state first team, while Tatum Benson and Nina Neira were named to the second team. Jayden Moomaw was an honorable mention selection.
“Despite not winning the championship, the Tides leave this season having learned so much about themselves,” Kelly said. “The Tides will be back next year with hopes of playing in the championship game once again.”
Gig Harbor only had one senior on the state tournament roster and will return the other 14 players next season.