The Palos Verdes girls water polo team has been utilizing a game-by-game mentality this season and Claudia Lee knows that focus is even more important during the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

“We have to go game-by-game, because it’s not going to be a breeze,” Lee said.

PV found itself trailing Esperanza 45 seconds into Tuesday’s match before buckling down to outscore Esperanza 4-1 over the next six minutes and earning a 13-6 wild-card round victory.

PV (15-12) will play at Temescal Canyon (18-10) on Wednesday in a first-round contest at 5 p.m.

“That first goal helped boost our confidence,” Lee said. “After that, it just felt like we had it.”

Samantha Retz gave Esperanza (15-14) a 2-1 lead with 3:53 to play in the period before Lee capitalized, beating Aztecs goalie Isabella Holiday to her left on a 5-meter shot to tie the score.

Amanda Price and Mackenzie Whitehead added goals in the first period to give PV a 4-2 lead.

Price’s play on the defensive end helped PV add to its lead early in the second period.

After stealing the ball from Esperanza, Price fed Victoria Barez, who beat Holiday with a soft goal to give the Sea Kings a 6-2 lead.

PV goalie Lily Hamson credited the Sea Kings’ defensive attack for helping shut down Esperanza.

“We stayed in a press defense, and it made it difficult for (Esperanza) to move,” Hamson said. “They were kind of locked up, and there wasn’t much room for them to try things.”

Hamson stepped up at opportune moments for the Sea Kings, recording seven saves, including four in the second half. She noted it was easier for her to relax with a bigger lead, rather than in a tight game.

“With a good offense, it gives me room to make mistakes,” Hamson said.

PV’s offense held a 7-3 lead at the half before Whitehead and Lee opened things up.

Whitehead skipped her shot past Holiday 15 seconds into the third period, and Lee’s third goal of the game, another 5-meter shot, gave PV a 9-3 lead.

Whitehead scored her third goal of the game midway through the fourth.

Lee’s last goal of the day seemingly put the game out of reach. After a PV defensive stop, Lee swam unguarded down the middle of the pool, took a pass from Barez and beat Holiday to to make it an 11-3 game.

Hamson knows how important it is for PV to stay focused on each game.

“A lot of times, we’ve come into games overconfident and played bad,” Hamson said. “We have to come into games neutral, forget about the past and just play quarter by quarter.”

PV coach Andras Gyongyosi said the Sea Kings started the playoffs the right way: with each player playing for a common goal.

“The girls are playing day by day, and they played better as a team (Tuesday),” Gyongyosi said. “They did not play as individuals, and that’s what we need in the playoffs.”

Playoff roundup

In CIF-SS Division 4 first round action, Peninsula lost to Downey 12-10. Charlotte Edler had 17 saves, Serena Chen had 4 goals, Cedar Rose Sutter added 3 goals. Peninsula, who made the postseason for the first time in three years, finished the season 12-11.

In CIF-SS Division 6 first round action, Chadwick defeated Santa Fe 10-6 Tuesday afternoon.

Ruby Wheeler  and Alley Degiorgio had 3 goals each, and  Olivia Maxson and  Natalie Tanios added 2 goals apiece. Gretchen Lunberg finished with 12 saves in goal for Chadwick, who will host Chaffey in Tuesday’s second round.

CIF Soccer

Palos Verdes' girls soccer team hosts Valencia of Placentia Thursday in a CIF-SS Division 3 first round matchup. PV's boys hosted St. Francis on Wednesday in a CIF-SS Division 1 first round meeting.

CIF Boys Basketball

Peninsula traveled to face Millikan in a CIF-SS Division 2-A first round meeting, while Rolling Hills Prep hosted Capistrano Valley Christian at Harbor College. Both boys opening round match ups were Wednesday.

CIF Girls Basketball

RHP plays Orange Lutheran in a CIF-SS Division 1 battle Thursday at L.A. Harbor College, while Peninsula earned a first-round bye in the division 2-A bracket. The Panthers will host the Sunny Hills-Tesoro winner in Saturday's second round. In division 3-A, Chadwick plays at Grace Brethren.

Any Wednesday game results were unavailable at press time.

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