Glitch in the Matrix

Four Wolverine winter sports teams reached CIF Playoffs in 2014, and all four were unable to capture CIF gold, with three finding themselves with a bad case of déjà vu. Girls’ soccer, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball all saw their playoff runs come to an end in eerily similar fashion this year as in 2012-2013.

Girls’ soccer

For the third year in a row, the girls’ varsity soccer team had its season ended on penalty kicks, and for the second straight year, its penalty kick loss came in the CIF Semifinals. Just as in 2013, the Wolverines had clinched a one-seed in the playoff bracket and had garnered recognition as one of the top teams in the nation, but could not make the final step of capturing the elusive CIF Championship. The Wolverines opened playoffs with a convincing 5-1 win against Rancho Cucamonga and scraped by Los Osos and San Clemente 1-0 in the next two rounds. They fell victim to the penalty kick shootout in the semifinals going up against Santa Margarita March 4, while last year the elimination loss came at the hands of Chaminade. The team had taken the lead early off a goal by Paige Howard ’17 but couldn’t hang on to the lead, allowing a goal in the second half, and soon falling 4-3 in the shootout. Ending its season at 20-2-2, the team had gone 20 straight games undefeated prior to the semifinals, having not lost a game since Dec. 13.

Boys’ basketball

In 2013, it was the Bishop Montgomery Knights, and in 2014, it was the Buckley Griffins. Both teams were 29-0 before eliminating the Wolverine boys’ basketball team in the third round of CIF Playoffs to keep their undefeated seasons going. However, unlike last year, when the team’s season ended in a 20-point defeat to the Knights, the Wolverines’ quarterfinal loss to the Griffins in 2014 came down to the last shot. The team had reached the quarterfinals following a double-digit win over Costa Mesa in round one, and after a second round comeback victory against Maranatha, where guard Michael Sheng ’14 drained a last-second three-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.

In the third round, Buckley guard Chase Holiday hit a floating layup with 3.3 seconds left in the game to give the Griffins the lead, and Sheng was unable to recreate his last-second shot from the prior game, missing long on the subsequent three-pointer. The Wolverines ended their season at 13-16 overall, the team’s first losing record in over 10 years.

Girls’ basketball

Entering the 2014 playoffs as a three-seed out of the Mission League, the girls’ varsity basketball team earned a comfortable 52-38 win over Duarte in the first round of the postseason. But just like 2013, when the Wolverines’ season came to an end off a double-digit home loss to Bishop Montgomery in the second round, the team was eliminated after falling 60-43 in the second round to St. Anthony in Taper Gymnasium. The Wolverines ended their season at 17-13 overall and 6-4 in Mission League play.

Girls’ water polo

The girls’ varsity water polo team was the only Wolverine playoff squad whose fate this year did not fully mirror that of last year. After winning back-to-back CIF titles in 2011 and 2012, 2013 saw the Wolverines bounced from the playoffs in the semifinals at the hands of Palos Verdes.

While head coach Brian Flacks looked to return his team to championship form, the Wolverines took a step back compared to last year, falling to Upland Hills in the quarterfinal round 12-7 and ending their season at 22-10 overall and 11-0 in league.