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Boys water polo 2016 preview: O.C. Top 10

STAFF WRITER

The OC Varsity preseason top 10 for the 2016 boys water polo season:

O.C. PRESEASON TOP 10

1. Mater Dei: How far can defense, execution and cohesion carry the Monarchs? The defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion returns only two starters, but finished second to Harvard-Westlake of Studio City at the state high school championships in July.

2. Huntington Beach: The two-time defending Sunset League champion wants to take the next step after consecutive trips to the Division 1 semifinals. A breakthrough victory in the regular season would be huge.

3. Orange Lutheran: The Lancers had a quiet summer and weren’t at full strength at the state championships. Ash Molthen and Hannes Daube could be the best duo of attackers in the county.

4. Foothill: The Knights move to Division 1 after consecutive CIF Division 2 titles and a Division 2 runner-up finish in 2013. They’re where they belong. They also could create serious problems for favorites if their defense locks up.

5. Corona del Mar: The Pacific Coast League juggernaut finished eighth at the state high school championships. With center Tamir Avital and goalie Matt Moran, the Sea Kings will aim to move up.

6. Dana Hills: The four-time defending South Coast League champion will be put to the test in the clutch without the Register’s player of the year, Bennett Williams, now at Stanford. The Dolphins also graduated first-team All-County goalie Riley Zachary (389 saves).

7. El Toro: The Chargers beat nemesis Dana Hills, 10-6, at the state tournament in July, but the South Coast League matches Sept. 20 and Oct. 20 are what matter. Keep an eye on their seniors.

8. Newport Harbor: The Sailors’ young players gained valuable experience last season in their first voyage under Coach Ross Sinclair. Look for the progress to continue.

9. Santa Margarita: The Eagles look to rise under first-year coach and Olympian Jeremy Laster. If they can reach the Division 2 playoffs, they could advance past the first round for the first time since 2004.

10T. Laguna Beach: With several returners from their team that reached the Division 3 semifinals, watch for the Breakers in Division 2. They expect to be improved.

10T. Villa Park: The Spartans swept the 16- and 18-and-under divisions at the recent Hawaii Invitational. They’re solid even without Dash Farr, who is focusing on swimming.

Others to watch (listed in order): Beckman, San Clemente, Aliso Niguel, Los Alamitos, Servite, Troy.

BOYS WATER POLO PREVIEW

Contact the writer: dalbano@scng.com


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