Wilson Water Polo

Brooke Gruneisen

Wilson girls water polo was feeling great after winning an 11th consecutive Moore League title, but the Bruins lost their second straight CIF Southern Section playoff opener at Belmont Outdoor Pool on Wednesday.

La Serna goalkeeper Natalie Dickes made 14 saves to lead the Lancers to a 10-8 win in Division 3. La Serna (17-12) will play Redondo Union in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

“It’s disappointing to lose in the first round because the girls were all fired up and ready,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said. “It hurt us to fall behind and La Serna did a great job shooting the ball and using off speed shots.”

Carissa Perez scored six goals for La Serna and Brooke Gruneisen scored six goals for Wilson. The Lancers scored the majority of their goals from distance.

“(Dickes) had a great game and came up really big for us but that doesn’t surprise me,” La Serna coach Erin Verstegen said. “She’s done that for us all season.”

La Serna took a quick 2-0 lead in the opening two minutes on goals from Nicolette Ramirez and Perez. Gruneisen scored off of an exclusion, a counter attack and a 5-meter penalty shot for the hat trick in first quarter. The Lancers took a 4-3 lead to the second quarter after a late goal from Bianca Borunda.

Perez scored two more goals before halftime and La Serna led 7-4 at the break. Dickes made four saves in the third quarter but another 5-meter from Gruneisen kept Wilson in the game, 9-6. Perez scored from the point to start the fourth quarter and the Bruins were only able to score twice in the final five minutes.

The Lancers won the Del Rio League and are ranked No. 10 in Division 3. They have reached the quarterfinals the last two years after winning the Division 4 championship in 2014. The No. 7 Bruins (14-15) lost to Dana Hills at home in the first round last year.


The Rams (20-13) were edged on the road in the first round of Division 5.

JJ has covered Long Beach sports for more than a decade. He's written for multiple newspapers in Southern California, produced professional event videos and won numerous awards for his writing and community service.

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