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Polo players determined to win it all

Jul 07, 2017 09:15AM ● Published by Greg James

The Mustangs girls water polo team won its second state championship this spring. They held on to defeat Viewmont 9-8. (Mike Goldhardt/Herriman water polo)

The Herriman High School girls water polo team swam past its opponents and netted its second state championship.

“Winning a state title feels so awesome,” Herriman senior Abi Jacketta said. “We worked so hard to get there, and now we can feel the fruits of our time spent.”

Herriman jumped in front early against Viewmont in the championship match, leading 6-4 at halftime. The Mustangs managed to hold onto the lead in the second half and came away with the 9-8 victory. The win avenged a 11-10 loss earlier in the tournament to the Vikings.

Jacketta scored three goals in the final match, while Rachel Hall, Jennifer Scott and freshman Mckenna Scadden had two goals apiece.

“It is a great feeling,” head coach Mike Goldhardt said. “These girls have worked hard to get to this point. Winning the state title is a huge payout to all of their efforts.”

The championship was the capstone to a 13-8 overall record this season for the Mustangs. They won six of their last seven matches.

Jacketta led the team with 65 goals. She averaged 3.1 goals per game and had 36 assists. She scored seven goals in a game earlier in this year against Cyprus. She said water polo has become an important part of her life.

“Some say it looks like a hard sport, but I think running is harder,” she said. “Health-wise, the game is good for your muscles and cardio. It is a good all-around fitness game.”

She was named First Team All-State for the third straight year. Her teammate Regan Hopkins, an eighth-grader, joined her on the First Team. Jacketta and senior Samantha Nestman were team captains this season.

Goldhardt said two years ago he felt Jacketta was one of the best players in the state. She set team records this season in assists (36), steals (127) and goals (65).

“She is fast and understands how to drive the ball to the cage,” Goldhardt said. “She has a great mind for the game.”

In three varsity seasons, she has played in 51 games and scored 127 goals. As a sophomore and freshman, she even played some time as a goalkeeper.

This is the Mustangs’ second state championship. They were champions in 2015 when they defeated Brighton.

Hopkins and sophomore McKenzie Newman combined for 192 saves in goal. They allowed 8.1 goals per game.

Herriman competes in the Utah High School 5A division against Brighton, Cottonwood, Copper Hills, Mountain Crest, Viewmont and Weber. According to the Utah Water Polo Association, the number of athletes participating in high school competition has increased.

Goldhardt has coached the Mustangs for five seasons and is a former coach of the year.

“I really like how coach adds experience and perspective to our game,” Jacketta said. “He keeps our heads on straight, and I know he puts in a lot of time without getting paid. He is 100 percent dedicated to us and our team.” 
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