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Mater Dei boys finish second at state championships; Orange Lutheran girls capture title
SANTA ANA Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake of Studio City renewed their boys water polo rivalry Sunday with a familiar intensity but a new validation for their high level of play.
The Division 1 powerhouses in the CIF-SS squared off in the finals of the California State High School Water Polo Championships, just 10 days after their class of 2016 products Thomas Dunstan (Mater Dei) and Ben Hallock (Harvard-Westlake) made the U.S. men’s Olympic team bound for Rio.
One year ago, Dunstan and Hallock were in the finals of the 48-team California championships, the top high school tournament of the summer.
“That’s incredible,” Harvard-Westlake coach Brian Flacks said. “(Mater Dei coach) Chris (Segesman) has a couple more (Olympians) than I do now, but we both obviously have been blessed to have some really, really talented players.”
Harvard-Westlake held the advantage in the pool Sunday, securing a convincing 8-4 victory at Foothill against the reigning Division 1 and tournament champion behind 15 saves by rising junior goalie Sam Krutonog, five goals by Luke Henriksson and strong play from Evan Rosenfeld.
The teams have clashed in the past three Division 1 finals.
Defending Division 1 champion Orange Lutheran captured the girls state crown, edging Laguna Beach, 6-5, at Corona del Mar. Myna Simmons snapped a 5-5 tie with a perimeter strike with about 1:30 left in the fourth.
With center Felix Brozyna-Vilim out with a knee injury, Henriksson picked up the scoring slack for Harvard-Westlake by scoring three of his goals in the second half. The Wolverines led, 4-3, at halftime but netted the first four goals to pull away and draw “Harvard … Westlake!” cheers from their faithful.
Henriksson scored three goals during the stretch, including one off a nearly half-court, dry-pass by Rosenfeld early in the fourth.
Harvard-Westlake’s defense forced Mater Dei to attack from the perimeter. Krutonog responded by shutting out the Monarchs for just over 15 minutes during a stretch starting late in the first half.
Mater Dei returns only two key players from last season and substituted for all six of its field players throughout the match.
“We just didn’t play our style of water polo,” said Segesman, whose squad received two goals from Owen Chappell. “Maybe because Felix wasn’t playing the guys cruised into it. I don’t know. We played really well (in a 7-5 victory in the semifinals) against Huntington Beach.”
Mater Dei scored the first two goals against the Oilers and never trailed. Attacker Christian Hockenbury paced the Monarchs with three goals, including one with 2:43 left in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Huntington Beach defeated Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton, 9-4, in the third-place match.
In the fifth-place game, Foothill defeated Loyola of Los Angeles, 10-7, behind four goals by Joseph Molina and two by Nolan Ortega. The Knights led, 6-1, at half and received 10 saves from Arash Izadmanesh.
Orange Lutheran's girls suffered a 13-1 loss against Laguna Beach last month but bounced back to capture their first tournament of the summer.
"It's a step in the right direction but we still have a ways to go," Orange Lutheran co-coach Ed Carrera said.
Carrera praised the play of utility players Hannah Palmer and Brooke Hourigan, goalie Alyssa Barnuevo, left-handed attacker Madalyn Vincent, defender Alyse Tyler and attacker Mollie Simmons. Myna Simmons and Hourigan each scored twice in the final.
Laguna Beach played without goalie Thea Walsh (U.S. Open) and Olympic center Aria Fischer but Coach Ethan Damato praised the play of goalie Quinn Winter, Isabel Riches, Sophia Lucas and Bella Baldridge, who fouled out in the early in the third.
OLYMPIC REFEREE AT STATE
Joe Peila of Henderson, Nev., who will be the U.S. water polo official at the Rio Games, officiated the boys final Sunday at Foothill. Peila first gained international experience in 1999 with the U.S. junior national team coached by Jim Brumm of Foothill.