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Gig Harbor girls water polo going for fifth consecutive state title

Gig Harbor’s Jayden Moomaw, left, battles a Curtis player for the ball in March 24’s 10-4 loss to the Vikings.
Gig Harbor’s Jayden Moomaw, left, battles a Curtis player for the ball in March 24’s 10-4 loss to the Vikings. jmanley@gateline.com

In Tatum Benson and Jenna Anderson’s freshman water polo season in the spring of 2016, the Gig Harbor Tides suffered a loss to rival Curtis High School in the early part of the season.

That team went undefeated from that point, culminating with a revenge win over Curtis in the state championship game.

This year’s team is hoping to pull off something similar.

Gig Harbor lost to Curtis March 24, 10-4. The Tides had won 48 straight games before the loss, including four consecutive state titles.

“I definitely hope for the same outcome as our freshman year,” Anderson said. “We had that loss against Curtis. I remember how sad we all felt as a team after that. My freshman year, I remember the bounce back. There was a new energy after that loss, a new want. After a loss, you come back with a greater want. You know what it feels like to be the one who loses.”

Excuse the Tides for not being quite as dominant as a season ago. The team lost All-Americans and four-year starters Alana Ponce and Olivia Lott to graduation, who are now playing water polo at the collegiate level.

“It has definitely take a lot of courage from the girls who learned so much from them,” Benson said. “It’s amazing, we had all that time with them. They taught us so much and now we get to pass what we learned from them onto the other girls. Hopefully, continue our legacy and make us a stronger team.”

Gig Harbor went virtually unscathed through the entirety of last year’s season. That won’t be the case this year. Lacking last year’s star power, this team will need to put in some old fashioned hard work to improve enough to beat Curtis in the state tournament.

After Saturday’s loss, Anderson wanted to the team to capitalize on the frustration at play.

“The way we capitalize on our losses is we watch that game film,” Anderson said. “Slow down the tape and see exactly what we did wrong. When we’re in practice, we rely on one another to call each other out, point out those same mistakes so that we can kind of pin point what we’re doing wrong and try to turn it around and just grow.”

Benson and Anderson have been here before. They’ll be relied on to get the team back on track.

“It’ll definitely push the girls to work harder,” Benson said. “We know what we need to do. We have to get it done. We’ve got great coaches, the girls who have been her for a while are going to help the younger girls in our starting lineup. The girls who are going to be put in often off the bench to get better and stronger.”

Gig Harbor will likely have another crack at Curtis in the state tournament. If so, the players hope to be ready and hopefully capture the team’s fifth straight state title.

“I think it would mean a lot to this group of girls,” Anderson said. “Alana was a great, talented player. We had some great, talented players. I think it would be extra meaningful this year because we’re kind of starting from scratch. We don’t have those superstar players. We just have a group of girls who really want it and we want to make those girls proud, as well as ourselves.”

Gig Harbor hits the road next, facing Foss on March 29, and hosts crosstown rival Peninsula April 3. That game is set to start at 3:30 p.m.

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