ATASCADERO — This was a fantastic week to be a Greyhound, especially one who supports Atascadero aquatic sports. For the first time in recent memory, the Atascadero Women’s water polo team are the top dogs in the PAC 7. On Monday afternoon the CIF Southern Section office released its rankings of the top women’s water polo teams in Southern California and the Greyhounds came in ranked No.10.
“I saw that,” Head Water polo coach Jon Conrad said. “We started out at the beginning of the school year ranked No. 45 out of 46 and to be ranked No. 10 is a great honor and we hope to keep that up.”
The announcement that the Hounds earned a top ten ranking came on Monday and on Tuesday they had the perfect stage set to prove they are deserving of such a high ranking. The kings and queens of water polo have resided in the South County for many years, more specifically in Righetti and Arroyo Grande. Two years ago the Warriors defeated the Greyhounds 17-0. Last season Atascadero was able to narrow the deficit to eight but Righetti always walked away victorious.
So far this season the Warriors and the Hounds have played three common opponents in Hueneme, Santa Ynez, and Thousand Oaks. The Hounds went 2-1 against those teams with their lone loss coming to Thousand Oaks, 5-2. Righetti beat all three teams and did so by a slightly larger margin than the Hounds.
“At the beginning, we were kind of playing scared,” Atascadero’s Evy Cooper said. “And then Conrad kind of gave us a pep talk about believing in ourselves and that belief is what helped us push back.”
The game was tightly-contested, back and forth all evening. Righetti took an early lead but the Hounds battled back. Atascadero senior goalie Tina Bell recorded 16 saves in the game to go with four steals.
“We were losing at the beginning and as the game went on we caught up and then they would score, we would score, they would score, we would score and then we wrapped it up,” Cooper said.
When the final buzzer began echoing off the brick walls surrounding the pool the Greyhound girls gazed up at the scoreboard in disbelief — they defeated Righetti 9-7.
“It’s crazy when we first won,” Bell said. “I didn't feel excited or anything because I just thought it was another game and then I was like, ‘wait, we just beat Righetti, this never happens for us,’ and it is really cool being the goalie because I was able to make all the saves. It still doesn't feel real.”
Evy Cooper led the way offensively for the Hounds scoring three of their nine goals and Abby Wright added two more.
“It was amazing!” Cooper said, “Like, we kind of had that thought that we have been doing so good this year, but Righetti has been so good. It has been amazing because we talked about it two years ago when all of us sophomores got moved up to varsity we were talking about like, ‘one day we are going to beat Righetti. That’s our goal,” and we finally fulfilled our goal. It’s amazing.”
“I had girls that were in tears,” he said. “it felt like a championship for them.”
The Atascadero girls are currently 7-2 overall on the season and 2-0 in