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Super Saturday: Previews, predictions for Orange County's finals
Here are previews of Saturday's CIF-SS boys water polo championships.
All games at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine
Live coverage for all games: nfhsnetwork.com (streaming)
Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (23-2) vs. Mater Dei (28-2)
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Outlook: Division 1 has its first running trilogy since Newport Harbor and Sunny Hills clashed in the finals three consecutive seasons from 1978-1980. Second-seeded Harvard has defeated Mater Dei in the past two Division 1 finals and could match Newport Harbor’s sweep of Sunny Hills from 1978-80. But top-seeded Mater Dei has beaten the Wolverines in two of the teams’ three matches this fall. After Harvard won the first game, 12-3, on Sept. 12 in Santa Barbara, the Monarchs snapped Harvard’s 50-game winning streak with an 11-10 victory Oct. 14 at Mater Dei. The Monarchs posted another 11-10 victory in the finals of the North-South Challenge on Oct. 24. Both teams feature U.S. national team players in lefty Thomas Dunstan of Mater Dei (team-high 77 goals, 56 assists) and center Ben Hallock of Harvard, a Stanford commit. Hallock, considered a rising star with the national team, netted five goals in the teams’ first match but was held to two goals apiece in the next two. Mater Dei won three consecutive Division 1 titles before being derailed the past two seasons and is the first school to reach six consecutive Division 1 finals since Corona del Mar (1984-1989).
Prediction: Mater Dei ... Monarchs' second-half in the semifinals is concerning but this should be a great game.
Dana Hills (25-6) vs. Foothill (27-2)
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Outlook: The top-seeded and defending champion Knights defeated the second-seeded Dolphins, 15-10, at the early-season South Coast Tournament in the teams’ only meeting. Attacker Chas Hornecker (team-high 88 goals) netted six goals while Mike Miller (69 goals) added five. Foothill, the preseason top-ranked team in Division 2, is seeking its fourth CIF section title but first back-to-back crowns. Dana Hills has reached the finals for the first time and is led by Stanford commit Bennett Williams (110 goals) and goalie Riley Zachary (373 saves). Foothill goalie Arash Izadmanesh has 206 saves. Foothill’s Bobby Lee (67 goals) and Dana Hills’ Jack McLaughlin (76 goals) are other players to watch.
Capistrano Valley (20-11) vs. Murrieta Valley (24-7)
Time: 7 p.m.
Outlook: The third-seeded Cougars defeated No. 2 seed and defending champion Laguna Beach, 9-8, in the semifinals to reach their first section final since 1991 in Division 1. Skyler Stanton scored the winner with four seconds left. Capistrano Valley lost to San Clemente in ’91 and was the Division 3-A (Division 2) runner-up in 1989 to El Toro. Capistrano Valley and top-seeded Murrieta Valley haven’t met this fall. The Cougars are led Harvard commit Austin Sechrest, who has 138 goals, 32 assists and 87 steals. Murrieta Valley counters with Brown commit Hudson Rawlings, a Brown commit and future collegiate rival for Sechrest and Harvard. Rawlings has 96 goals and 91 drawn exclusions but is supported by Ian Fleenor (94 goals) and junior Casey Lynton (100 steals). The Nighthawks are seeking their first title in the higher divisions. They were the Division 2 runner-up in 2010 and Division 3 runner-ups in 2008-9. Murrieta Valley captured Division 5 in 2006. Capistrano Valley coach Steve Yancey is seeking his 499th career victory, which includes his tenure at San Clemente.
Prediction: Murrieta Valley ... Comparative scores seem to favor Nighthawks but Cougars and Sechrest feel a bit like a team of destiny. Murrieta needs to play well defensively early or watch out.
Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore (19-13) vs. Segerstrom (26-4)
Times: 10 a.m.
Outlook: The top-seeded Jaguars defeated the No. 2 seed Titans, 11-7, in a nonleague game Sept. 29 at Segerstrom. Senior David Molina paced the Jaguars with six goals while standout freshman Jose Barajas added four. Segerstrom won despite being without starting goalie Christian Sanchez. Second-seeded Temescal Canyon is led by 6-foot-2 center Tyler Strabel (114 goals) and 6-foot-6 goalie Gabriel Thorne (249 saves). The Jaguars were the Division 6 runner-ups last season to Malibu. They beat Temescal Canyon, 11-9, in the semifinals. Segerstrom has reached a third consecutive section final overall. The Jaguars won Division 7 in 2013. Temescal Canyon is seeking its first CIF title.
Live updates Saturday: Follow @ocvarsityguy on Twitter