Mary Rhodes isn't about to take it easy just because the Cabrillo water polo standout has already signed to play for UC Davis after her senior year comes to a close.
Just look at her performances this year: She scored 10 goals in a 15-8 win over Santa Ynez last week. In a loss to Oxnard two weeks ago, Rhodes popped in nine goals.
In the first eight games of the season, Rhodes had racked up 51 goals.
Last month, Rhodes signed to play for UC Davis, a Division 1 program.
"I'm signed, I'm ready to go and I'm super relieved and super excited," Rhodes said about joining Davis. "I love the team. I'm ready to go."
Rhodes plays the hole set position for Cabrillo, setting up in the middle of the defense and popping in close-range goals. Her play acts like a gravitational force on a defense, pulling defenders toward her in the middle of the pool.
In college, Rhodes thinks she may play more of a driving set player.
"I think that I'll probably be more of a post-up set and that's just driving in and posting up and not starting straight at set," Rhodes said. "But wherever they need me I'll go. I'm ready to play wherever they need me."
Rhodes has been on the varsity team at Cabrillo all four years of high school and has played water polo for seven years.
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"She's never going to give up on a play and she's never going to slow down, she's always at 110-percent," said Mike Lee, Cabrillo's coach. "Every ball she's going to try and go for and she's going to bury in the back of the net. She's going to be successful most of the time because she outworks everybody she goes against."
Though Rhodes gets most of her team's goals, she feels her teammates play a big part in that.
"I really think that my scoring is helped by where the ball is placed and where I get the ball," Rhodes said. "It's about creating space and having everybody spaced out and my teammates help spread the defense out. Even though there are so many people on me it really helps to have so much space to work with. I can find my legs and put the ball in an area where there aren't people and get it in the back of the net."
Rhodes is still growing into the role of a senior leader on the team, which is inexperienced this year.
"I think that we are a new team and we're building a program," Rhodes said. "There are lot of sophomores and they're second-year players. I think that getting them more experience will help better the program later on.The sophomore year girls will turn this into a super strong program in a couple years."
Rhodes has also seen the water polo landscape change over her four years of varsity water polo at CHS. The Conqs went from being the Los Padres League powerhouse to struggling to compete in the Channel League with schools in the Santa Barbara area. After San Luis Obispo County and the Santa Maria Valley schools moved to the CIF Central Section, Cabrillo mostly plays teams from Southern California in tournaments and non-league contests. The Central Section runs its girls water polo during the fall sports season whereas the Southern Section season is held in the winter.
"It's definitely tougher. We are not a Division 1 team and Santa Barbara is such a strong area that it is hard to go and play those games because they are so strong," Rhodes said. "They have a club down there which all the girls go to. It's a really strong club, so having that feed into their high school makes things really hard for us.
"When we would go up north we'd have more competition. Santa Barbara really, it's hard to find the competition there and in the Channel League."
San Marcos was ranked third in the most recent CIF Central Section Division 1/2 poll that was released on Monday. Dos Pueblos High is 13th and Santa Barbara is 14th. Cabrillo is unranked in Division 5.
Rhodes played club water polo herself and feels the team has a shot to make the CIF Central Section playoffs, though they'll likely have to do it as an at-large team as the three guaranteed playoff spots will be taken up by the three Santa Barbara school.s
"I think that we have a good shot of going to CIF and doing very well there," Rhodes said.
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