Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Bailey Hansen looks for the open shot during Tuesday’s victory over San Joaquin Memorial. Hansen scored a team-high seven goals to go with a pair of assists.
When Madera Coyotes girls water polo head coach Erik Baymiller took over the program, one of the biggest stepping stones he faced was to beat San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno.
Since then, the Coyotes have gone on to bigger and better things, treating the Panthers as a bump on the road to a County/Metro Athletic Conference championship.
“I saw on Facebook recently that five years ago, we finally beat them and it was a big thing,” Baymiller said. “Things have flip-flopped since then.”
“It’s definitely been an amazing journey,” senior four-year starter Bailey Hansen said. “I don’t think any program has worked harder than we have. It’s Coyote pride. We all come out here and play our hardest.”
After a victory over Sanger earlier this year and a win over the Edison-Fresno Tigers, who are last in the CMAC, the Coyotes could win the CMAC title this year.
Behind Hansen’s domination in the pool, the Coyotes easily passed the Panthers’ test with a 17-10 victory Tuesday night to honor seven seniors, including Hansen.
“I love that we started all seven seniors,” Baymiller said. “It was a beautiful thing. We let in more goals that I wanted, but it was a good game and I was happy with it.”
“It was really important to win as a team,” Hansen, who officially committed to play water polo at Fresno State on Tuesday, said. “We are a winning culture. The most important thing to me was to make sure all my girls were able end their senior night with a goal and their heads held high.”
Six other players scored goals for the Coyotes. Lili Ramirez, Lola Gill and Emily Lopez-Ibarra each cored two. Gill dished out four assists. Katie Ylarregui, Tara Goertzen, Hansen and Devina Cazador each had two assists.
“Our one-on-one situations, we were going to be better than them,” Baymiller said. “We used to be super big rivals with them. Most of their players are club athletes with us.”
The Coyotes, after Edison’s match, will focus on the Div. I playoffs after getting moved up from Div. II.
“It’s most important to take this week important,” Hansen said. “Practice is just as important as the game. Going into playoffs, we’re excited to show everybody what we have.”
Just 40 seconds into the match, the Coyotes got on the scoreboard. Getting a pass from Goertzen from the right, Hansen shot to the upper right corner for the first goal of the match.
The Panthers tied the match a minute later, but Madera scored the next five goals.
Only 22 seconds after the tie, Cazador sent a shot in, but it hit off the crossbar. Hansen was right there on the opposite side with the rebound and sent a shot into the net high by the goalie.
With four minutes left in the first period, Lopez-Ibarra drew a penalty shot. She skipped her shot into the left side of the net for a 3-1 lead.
A minute later, Gill got the ball on the left and sent the ball to the middle for Hansen, who had an open shot on goal for a 4-1 lead.
With 47 seconds left in the period, Gill got the ball at the top of the offense and passed it down low to Hansen, who had an easy shot at an open goal for a 5-1 lead.
In the second period, Lopez-Ibarra sent another skip shot into the back of the net into the left side for a 6-1 lead with 4:39 left in the first half.
The Panthers scored a goal with a breakaway after a steal to cut the lead to four. However, a minute later, Lopez-Ibarra drove to the net and sent a pass to the left for Gill. Gill shot into the far right corner for the goal and a 7-2 halftime lead.
The Panthers opened the second half with two goals in the first two-and-a-half minutes to cut the Coyotes’ lead to three.
Two minutes later, Hansen and Cazador played give-and-go with Cazador finding Hansen on the right for a shot into the open net for an 8-4 lead.
The Panthers scored 18 seconds later to get the lead down to three, but the Coyotes struck quickly. Fifteen seconds later, Ylarregui got the ball at the top and sent a pass to Hansen on the right, who shot inside the far post for the goal and a 9-5 lead.
A minute later, Ylarregui’s shot on goal was blocked. However, Goertzen got the rebound and tapped it in to increase the lead to five.
Twelve seconds later, Memorial found the right side of the net for a goal.
The Coyotes struck 20 seconds later when Lopez-Ibarra drew a penalty shot. Lili Ramirez took the shot and found the upper right corner for an 11-6 lead. The Panthers closed the third period with a goal to the upper left corner with 25 seconds left.
Just 37 seconds into the fourth period, the Panthers committed a foul in the middle of the pool. Gill and Hansen went on a breakaway with just the goalie to beat. Gill sent a pass to Hansen on the left. Hansen shot inside the left corner for the goal.
Madera added another goal 28 seconds later when Goertzen gathered in a rebound off the crossbar and sent a pass inside to Cazador, who shot into the far corner for a 13-7 lead.
With about five minutes left in the match, Goertzen sent a pass out to Hansen on the left. She pulled the defenders to her before passing inside to Ramirez, who tapped the ball inside the far post to extend the lead to seven after a 3-0 run.
After the Panthers hit a long shot for a goal, Hansen stole the ball from Memorial in the middle of the pool and found Gill one-one-one with the goalie. Gill shot inside the near post for a 15-8 lead.
Hansen scored her final goal of the night with a shot by the goalie from in front for a 16-8 lead.
The Panthers converted a penalty shot to cut the lead down to seven. However, Madera came back 37 seconds later with another goal. Gill got the ball on the right after a goalie foul and she sent the ball to the middle for Camilla Buenstroso, who found the empty net for the goal.
The Panthers closed out the scoring with a goal with 52 seconds left for the 17-10 final.