Jones, Quinlan Named Murrieta Valley Athletes of Month

Water polo standout Morgan Jones and soccer standout Sammy Quinlan of Murrieta Valley High School have been named the January Murrieta 24/7...

Water polo standout Morgan Jones and soccer standout Sammy Quinlan of Murrieta Valley High School have been named the January Murrieta 24/7 Athletes of the Month, sponsored by the Photos DLite photo studio.

Jones, a junior goalkeeper, is one of the leading players on the girls water polo team, which annually is one of the best programs in the area. The Nighthawks are 22-7 this year, top-ranked in CIF Division 2, and was seeded No. 1 for next week's playoffs. MVHS will be at home to open the playoffs Thursday against the winner of a wild-card game between Thousand Oaks and Alhambra.

"I think there is always pressure when you are ranked at the top, but my teammates and I have been working hard this season and it has been showing in the pool," Jones said. "We are more connected as a team this season and we know what we want. Coach Lynton has done an excellent job preparing us for tough games."

Jones was originally honored as an Athlete of the Week on Jan. 23 for her excellent goalkeeping work in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, in which she averaged 11 saves per game. Her performance all season is one of the reasons the Nighthawks are once again one of the Southland's top teams.

"My highlight was when we beat Mater Dei 11-9 in the SoCal Tournament," Jones recalled about the championship game in Santa Barbara. "We played them twice in the past and lost. They are a tough Division 1 opponent. That game we worked well as a team and didn't give up."

Jones offers a unique perspective of the sport from her position in goal, where much is demanded of her.

"Everything is mental for goalkeepers," she said. "There is a ton of pressure on this position and you have to stay positive and pump your teammates up. What I like about being a goalkeeper is that my teammates can rely on me. I want them to think that when I am in the goal, I'm going to do my job."

Quinlan is a senior goalkeeper for the boys soccer team. The Nighthawks didn't make the playoffs, but Quinlan's performance in goal gave fans something to remember. He posted a 1.3 goals-against average and provided leadership when the team needed it.

"This season was my favorite," Quinlan said. "All the guys had been together since freshman year. We've gotten really close.

"Our record wasn't the best, but we had some talent. What I learned the most this season was the importance of working together."

Quinlan said he was originally a wide receiver in football, but he was recruited by soccer coaches who wanted a goalkeeper with good hands and quick instincts. He will play lacrosse this spring and plans to enroll at Mt. San Jacinto College.

"I'll probably join an adult soccer league to keep all aspects of my game up," he said. "Playing goal is really demanding on the body. You're diving all the time, you get kicked, it's tough. But I love the game."

Jones and Quinlan will receive a free portrait from Photos DLite. The school will also receive one for public display.


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