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, MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Foothill's Noelle Wijnbelt shoots the ball as she is defended by El Toro's Maddie Parenteau during a game last season.

Girls water polo preview 2016-17: Preseason O.C. top 10

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity’s girls water polo O.C. preseason top 10:

PRESEASON O.C. TOP 10

1. Laguna Beach: With Olympic champion Aria Fischer back in the lineup, the Breakers could be Orange County’s top contender in Division 1. Experienced Dos Pueblos of Goleta, with touted freshman Jewel Roemer and Laguna Beach transfer Sophie Leggett, looms as the most dangerous out-of-county threat.

2. Orange Lutheran: The defending Division 1 champion graduated O.C. player of the year Kelsey Tyler and sharp-shooter Emma Skelly but started three freshmen who will be key players this season. The Lancers’ promise showed while they captured the summer state high school championships.

3. Mater Dei: The Monarchs were already going to be formidable, but added Bella Baia (Santa Margarita) and strong freshman Tea Poljak. They’ll aim to dethrone Orange Lutheran in the Trinity League.

4. Foothill: Last season’s Division 1 runner-up returns serious firepower with center Noelle Wijnbelt and attacker Val Ayala. The Knights graduated veteran goalie Kenzi Snyder but are confident in replacements Molly DiLalla and Sara Woesner.

5. Corona del Mar: The Sea Kings are seeking a breakthrough in Division 1 with the return of five starters, including dynamic attackers Chloe Harbilas and Jaleh Moaddeli. They’ve also added a strong goalie in-waiting in Erin Tharp.

6. Los Alamitos: The Griffins are heavy on returners and added Rosary standout Bayley Weber. That combination could help them defend their Sunset League crown and perhaps emerge as a Division 1 darkhorse.

7. Santa Margarita: The Eagles lost a few girls to transfers but return several players and added Trabuco Hills standout Christina Doherty. They hope to surprise in the Trinity League.

8. Huntington Beach: With the return of their starting lineup, the Oilers look to build upon their success last season. Their biggest games will in league against Los Alamitos and Newport Harbor.

9. Newport Harbor: The Sailors graduated four productive seniors, including goalie Maddy Kanzler. They return emerging attacker Jessica Lynch but will need help from a traditionally strong lower-level pipeline.

10. El Toro: After consecutive trips to the CIF Division 2 finals, including a title in 2015, the Chargers move to Division 1. Expect a challenge from San Clemente in the South Coast to remain.

Others to watch: Dana Hills, Rosary, San Clemente, Troy, Villa Park.

Contact the writer: dalbano@scng.com


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