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PHOTO, TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Katella and Andres Centeno, right, defeated Santa Ana Valley, 14-3, on Wednesday to finish 6-0 in the Orange League and perhaps seal the No. 1 seed in Division 7.

Roundup: Katella collects Orange League crown

STAFF WRITER

Katella’s Gio Marin, a junior with no water polo experience prior to high school, whipped in three goals in a span of 90 seconds of the second period.

One period later, the left-handed attacker fired a cross-pool pass to senior Felipe Perez, who played football as a freshman.

Aaron Vargas, a senior who also didn’t play water polo before entering Katella, showed the strongest shooting arm with an extra-man strike from the point.

Katella’s progress in the pool was clear Wednesday as the Knights wrapped up a second consecutive Orange League title with a 14-3 victory against visiting Santa Ana Valley.

With a roster full of players who learned the sport in high school, Katella (14-2, 6-0) also likely sealed the No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS Division 7 playoffs.

“They’ve improved a ton,” said Katella coach Dave Mikesell, who is assisted by OJ Vazquez and Garrett Weiss. “I’m pretty proud.”

Marin finished with a game-high five goals and added two field blocks in the final three periods. Vargas netted four goals, and goalie Diego Munoz added 12 saves to anchor the defense.

Jair Zavala scored twice for the Falcons (6-18, 2-4).

When the playoff pairings are released Saturday at 10 a.m., the Knights’ lofty seed will remind some of their CIF Division 7 titles in 2008 and 2009. They beat Valencia in both finals with a team that featured future collegiate goalie Dylan Peterson (UC Irvine).

But after winning the league title in 2010, Katella endured a drought until 2015. Mikesell believes the school’s success in boys swimming – the Knights have claimed six consecutive league titles – has motivated his players to work hard at their new sport.

“We live it now,” Marin said of water polo. “We love this sport now. We want to go all the way to CIF. We want to prove everyone wrong.”

Said Mikesell, “It’s the swim team that has really helped us. None of these kids have done any aquatics outside of this school. … It just took time (to rebuild).”

Santa Ana Valley first-year coach Tim Craycraft, a former El Toro assistant, called Katella “a great team.” He also noted that his squad trimmed its deficit from its first game against the Knights, 19-5.

“The kids improved a lot in eight weeks,” he said.

In another Orange League game:

Savanna 16, Magnolia 6: Wesley Hunt racked up five goals and 11 steals to lead the second-place Rebels (4-2 in league).

In the Trinity League:

No. 8 Santa Margarita 17, Servite 8: Noah Hodge had 18 saves and four assists to help the host Eagles (22-7, 3-2) secure third place.

No. 2 Orange Lutheran 19, St. John Bosco 2: Center Josh Orrick scored four goals to help the Lancers claim their first outright league title.

Contact the writer: dalbano@scng.com


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