Olympia girls water polo ends historic season in Final Four
| 8:42 a.m. April 23, 2015
The Olympia girls water polo team made history on April 17, advancing to the Final Four in the FHSAA State Playoffs for the first time.
While the Titans had been to state before, because the state water polo tournament includes the quarterfinals, Olympia had never advanced past that point in previous years. That all changed when the Titans — who had defeated Winter Park in the first round play-in to reach state — beat Pembroke Pines Charter in the state quarterfinals, 14-2, at Ransom Everglades High School in Miami.
“The first game went well for us — our girls were in states last year, so the goal this year was getting a little farther than we did last year,” head coach Stephanie Johnson Possell said. “They carried themselves well under the pressure; they did well.”
The state semifinals, held later that day, pitted Olympia against nearby Lake Nona, with the Lions edging the Titans in a close match, 10-7, to end the girls’ historic season.
“It was a close game,” Johnson Possell said. “We were down by one, so we took some chances, and the chances we took didn’t come through for us. But the girls fought hard, and I’m proud of how they played.”
Olympia finished with a record of 22-7 and was led all season by its impressive group of seniors: Kelsey Lehman (110 goals), Alex Kata (46 goals), Mikaela Garrott (50 goals) and goalkeeper Frances Whidden (100 saves; save stats from quarterfinals and semifinals not available).
Although all four will be difficult to replace, the program is in a good place in that it will be returning 14 of its 18 players for next spring, meaning Johnson Possell can now lean on her girls to try and take the program one step further in 2016, this time shooting to play in the last game of the season.
“I’m really proud of the people that we have on our team — they are a great group of young ladies,” the veteran coach said. “They support each other all the time. That is the No. 1 thing that I am most proud of: the team comes first, and they really show it when they play.”