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Mater Dei's reign at South Coast Tournament to be tested (updated)
It's the South Coast Tournament, and traditionally, one of the most-telling events of the young boys water polo season.
But in recent seasons, it's been more like the Mater Dei Tournament. The Monarchs have owned it.
They have captured six consecutive editions of the 32-team tournament, a span of 60 games.
Mater Dei's reign will be tested this week in the grueling, five-games-in-three-days format and potentially by the addition of rival and top-seeded Harvard-Westlake of Studio City to the field.
The Wolverines are the top seed and defeated Mater Dei in the finals of the Elite 8 tournament, 15-9, last Saturday night at Harvard-Westlake. The Monarchs struggled with exclusions, picking up 16 as Harvard-Westlake went 7 for 14 on the power-play.
Last season, Mater Dei dropped its first game against Harvard-Westlake, 12-3, but bounced back to win the teams' next three matches, including the Division 1 final.
The schools have played for the past three CIF-SS Division 1 titles.
Mater Dei has owned the South Coast but is seeded second, ahead of No. 3 Huntington Beach and No. 4 Orange Lutheran. The top four seeds are all Division 1 contenders.
The Monarchs' last losses at the South Coast Tournament were on the final day of the 2009 edition on Sept. 26. On a Saturday at Newport Harbor, they fell against El Toro, 9-3, in the semifinals and to Newport Harbor, 7-5, in third-place match. Goalie Garrett Danner, now at NCAA champion UCLA, made 24 saves for El Toro against Mater Dei while Newport Harbor was led by 11 saves by Chris Whitelegge, now an assistant for the Sailors.
The tournament opens Thursday at Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar, Foothill and Santa Margarita. The final is Saturday at Newport Harbor at 4:05 p.m.