For Pali Sports Teams, it was a Memorable Fall

Pali’s varsity fall sports teams were successful in the California Interscholastic Federation Los Angeles City Section (CIF-LA). The Dolphins had a record-setting showing, with the girls Varsity Golf, boys Varsity Cross Country, boys Varsity Water Polo and girls Varsity Tennis teams winning city finals and boys Varsity Football having their best performance since the turn of the century.

Girls Varsity Golf finished their season with first place honors in league and city finals and sixth place in regionals. Coach Dave Suarez described sophomore Anna Song as the “real deal” in a November article written by the Palisadian-Post. With a record score of 66 before city finals, Song earned the title of “best player on the team” by her teammates. “I really think we wanted to play better in regionals, but winning cities was definitely a great accomplishment,” Song said. “It was honestly amazing winning cities because a lot of our seniors are leaving this year, so it was just an emotional time, yet still really happy.”

Boys Varsity Cross Country won the city championship on Nov. 19 and finished 17th out of 21 teams at state finals. Junior Max Fields, who was the 15th overall division one runner at state, said that there were six seniors and one sophomore on varsity last year. Fields added that this was not ideal because they had to replace these runners throughout their roster. However, he thinks that the team has recovered. “We had the number one freshman recruiting class in the nation,” he said. This included Zachary Cohen, the No. 2-ranked freshman runner at state finals and the No. 34 freshman in the country, according to Fields said that the team’s hard work paid off this year, but they have “a long way to go [to reach their] true goals.” He elaborated: “I knew there that, even though it’s slim, I still thought maybe a tiny bit that I could get to nationals. But I knew that was kind of a pipe dream.”

Girls Varsity Volleyball ended their season with a disappointing loss in the first round of cities and fourth round of regionals. Libero and co-captain of the team Erin Hogan, a senior, said: “We’ve never made it that far [in states], so … this is a great moment for me as captain.” Hogan added that she was surprised with this year’s outcome because “usually Pali wins cities… In my four years of playing for Pali, we’ve gone to either the semi-finals or the finals, but we didn’t even make it to the quarterfinals.”

Boys Varsity Water Polo won their 10th consecutive city championship, adding state championship rings to their fingers this year. Senior and team captain Gavin Levy attributed the team’s success to their coaches and top players. “[The] coaches brought us together when it was necessary and the main core have played together for years,” Levy said. “The team began to appreciate each other more and grew the bond with younger players to make them feel like they could play a bigger part in the team.” The Dolphins capped a 24-4 season this year with ten consecutive and a 10-9 victory over Rancho Bernardo High School in the state championship finals.

Girls Varsity Tennis finished with another win in city championships, adding to Pali’s 30 team championships, the most in CIF-LA history. However, their season closed with an unfortunate loss in the first round of states. With a record of 19-4, co-captain Sophie Szeder said she was proud of her team’s accomplishments. “After winning cities, I was really proud of our team and how well everyone had played over the season,” she said. Although the team has experienced much success, Szeder considers the process to be both mentally and physically challenging. “In tennis it is very hard to keep a positive mindset,” she said, “but our team is amazing and even if a player is doubting themselves, our teammates cheer each other up and get us back to our positive mindsets.” 

Boys Varsity Football ended its season with a 44-7 loss to Granada Hills Charter High School in the fourth round of City playoffs this year. Junior and varsity center Alfonso Orozco attributed a lot of Pali’s regular-season success to their coaching staff. “They all push us through,” he said. “They all wanted to make sure [that] we were on our game. … They wanted us to do better not just for the team, but for [ourselves]. You know, to build that… brotherhood.” This was the best performance from Pali’s varsity football team in more than two decades.