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PHOTO COURTESY OF CYPRESS WATER POLO; TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Cypress boys water polo team makes its first appearance in the semifinals Wednesday when it takes on Don Lugo of Chino.

Previews for Wednesday's semifinals

OCVARSITY.COM

CIF-SS BOYS WATER POLO SEMIFINALS

DIVISION 1

Corona del Mar (23-6) vs. Mater Dei (29-0)

Site, time: William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV: Time Warner (Friday, 10 p.m.)

Outlook: Top-seeded Mater Dei again has handled all challengers this season. Mater Dei defeated Corona del Mar, 13-5, in a nonleague match Oct. 13. The Sea Kings opened a 3-1 lead before the Monarchs scored 10 consecutive goals. Corona del Mar dropped extra defense to mark powerful Mater Dei center Jon Walters (team-high 120 goals), but attackers Kent Inoue and Phillip Tran took advantage of the open space on the perimeter, combining for nine goals. Fifth-seeded Corona del Mar has improved since the game and is riding a season-high nine-game winning streak, including a title at the Memorial Cup on Oct. 27. Mater Dei, the two-time defending Division 1 champion, has won a Southern Section-record 77 consecutive games. The Monarchs also have claimed 18 consecutive playoff matches, a stretch that includes Division 2 titles in 2009 and 2008. Both teams have excellent size. Mater Dei goalie McQuin Baron, a 6-foot-8 junior, can be a difference maker. Attacker Reid Chase leads Corona del Mar with 82 goals. The Sea Kings won the Division 2 title in 2010 and fell in the Division 2 final last season. They last appeared in the Division 1 semifinals in 2009, falling to Newport Harbor, 14-10. In the other semifinal, No. 2 Long Beach Wilson plays No. 3 Loyola of Los Angeles at 5 p.m. at Woollett.

DIVISION 2

Laguna Beach (21-9) vs. Santa Barbara (21-8)

Site, time: William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine, Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Outlook: The third-seeded Breakers won the past two Division 3 titles before moving up to Division 2. Second-seeded arrived in Division 2 after a move from Division 1, the Dons had dropped three consecutive Division 1 first-round matches after reaching the Division 1 semifinals in 2008. In September, Santa Barbara defeated Laguna Beach, 10-7, at the South Coast Tournament. Cristian Bridley, a 6-foot-8 center, scored a team-high four goals for Santa Barbara. Laguna Beach has its own powerful center in the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Duncan Lynde. The Breakers' top three scorers are Riley Thomas (75 goals), Camron Hauer (56) and Caleb Scott (54). Scott also is the Breakers' top 2-meter defender. Laguna Beach goalie Maxx McCarter has 263 saves. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Agoura plays No. 5 Damien of La Verne at 6:30 p.m. at Woollett.

DIVISION 7

Cypress (15-14) vs. Don Lugo of Chino (27-4) 

Site, time: Ayala of Chino Hills, Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Centurions' first semifinal appearance comes against last season's Division 7 runner-up, Don Lugo. Third-seeded Cypress finished in a three-way tie for the league title in the Empire League, then won a coin-flip for the league's No. 1 playoff entry. Last season, the Empire League was part of Division 6. The Centurions' record is misleading because they forfeited seven victories for using an ineligible player, who has since returned to the team. Don Lugo defeated Cypress, 11-6, at the Central Orange County tournament on Oct. 19. Both teams are senior-laden. Cypress starts six seniors, led by defender Connor Kunihiro, leading scorer Dennis Hyon (98 goals) and goalie Bryce Mattson. Don Lugo starts seven seniors. The Mt. Baldy League champion has lost to top-seeded Citrus Valley, 8-7, along with Irvine (Division 1), Aliso Niguel (Division 1) and Palos Verdes (Division 3). Don Lugo's balanced offense includes leading scorers Luis Franco and Mackenzie Bowels at attacker and center Ernie Rawson. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Citrus Valley plays Brentwood at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades at 5 p.m.


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