If there’s a girls water polo team in the Central Coast Section with a better trio than Mountain View High’s Gabi Matafora-Adams, Maddy Menard and Malena Nguyen, Spartans coach Drew Enlow hasn’t seen it.
“They are as good as any three players on any team in CCS,” he said. “They can all take over games. They can score, pass and play defense.”
Their stats – and the team’s success this season – seem to support the coach’s case. Matafora-Adams, Menard and Nguyen have combined for 129 goals, 96 assists and 142 steals through 15 games. Enlow said Matafora-Adams “is taking a much bigger role in the offense” this year; the senior tops the team in goals with 56. Nguyen isn’t far behind (42), and the junior leads the team in assists (42) and steals (54). Menard, a senior, ranks second in steals (51) and third in goals (31).
The trio has led Mountain View to a 10-5 overall record that includes a 5-3 mark in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.
All three are returning starters who helped the Spartans make school history last year by reaching the CCS semifinals for the first time. Eight other players graduated, however, leaving the team with considerably less experience.
“This season has been challenging,” said Matafora-Adams, one of only four seniors on the squad, “but very fun at the same time.”
“It’s been a fun season and really interesting,” he said. “We have good players at every position, but the younger players are still getting used to the varsity game and everyone is still getting used to playing together.”
Yet none of that has prevented Mountain View from competing in the challenging De Anza Division. Even after Thursday’s 14-9 home loss to league-leading Los Gatos, the Spartans remain in third place and on pace to make the playoffs.
“We have all been working hard, and I am very happy with how much our team has improved so far,” said Matafora-Adams, the team co-captain with Menard. “We’re going to keep working to see how far we can make it in CCS.”
Enlow noted that his players are determined to make it to the end.
“They want to win CCS – especially the seniors – and they’ve been working toward that all season,” he said. “With the new format, it looks achievable.”
The CCS has introduced an Open Division that will feature the top eight teams, regardless of school size. So in theory, the teams in Divisions I and II should have better shots at claiming the crowns than in years past.
If the Spartans hope to be among those teams, they will need help from younger players such as Lexi Rudolph and Nicole Thomas. Both sophomores start in the field, and Enlow described them as “really talented.” Rudolph scored a season-high five goals in Mountain View’s 21-11 rout of rival Los Altos Oct. 3.
The Spartans also have a new goalkeeper – actually two of them. Juniors Lynae Deklerk and Frieda Kahan split time in goal, alternating games.
“They’re even – there hasn’t been any separation,” said Enlow, in his eighth year as head coach. “Both are improving, and that’s good, and they push each other in practice.”
Mountain View is slated to host Saratoga 3:30 p.m. Thursday.