All games at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine
MATER DEI (23-9) VS. SANTA MARGARITA (24-6 ), 2:30 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams should be highly motivated for this one. Fourth-seeded Mater Dei is back in the finals after falling to Santiago of Corona in the 2012 Division 2 final. The Monarchs exorcised some demons in the semifinals by eliminating the top-seeded Sharks, 9-7.
Mater Dei has established itself as a strong girls program but a title would be sweet for players who have seen their boys counterparts claim CIF championships five consecutive seasons.
The Monarchs also could be pushed by a stinging loss at home to second-seeded Santa Margarita in the Trinity League title match. Santa Margarita’s Haley Wan scored on a spectacular outside shot in sudden-death overtime to lead the Eagles to a 12-11 victory.
The victory was a break-through for the Eagles, who snapped a two-season losing streak against the Monarchs. Santa Margarita could be motivated to hold its position and claim its first section title since 2000.
Santa Margarita is in the section finals for the first time since 2003, Coach Kevin Ricks’ first season. The Eagles fell to then-rival Foothill, 7-6, in the Division 1 final.
The Eagles have re-established themselves as a county power but a title would put them in elite status at Santa Margarita.
The match features two of the top centers in the nation in Mater Dei’s Mackenzie Barr (signed with UCLA) and Emily Loughlin (signed with Cal). The girls were teammates on the U.S. youth team.
It will be interesting to see how much Barr and Loughlin face-off one-on-one. Wan, one of the final cuts for the youth team, guarded Barr extensively in the league showdown while Mater Dei’s Sydney Blubaugh marked Loughlin.
Both teams have strong supporting casts. Santa Margarita’s Kacey Avalos and Morgan Martinez (UC Irvine signee) are experienced players while Mater Dei’s Brianna Daboub complements Barr as a dangerous scorer. Mater Dei junior goalie Anna Politiski matched her season-high with 14 saves against Santiago.