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Depth adds intrigue to Division 2 playoffs
LOS ALAMITOS - The parity that highlighted Division 2 girls water polo in the regular season appeared again Sunday with the release of the CIF-Southern Section playoff pairings.
The postseason draw for the top five contenders produced some surprises, but the tournament still looks as wide open as ever.
Agoura (19-7), last week’s top-ranked team in the Division 2 coaches’ poll, was seeded fifth. El Toro (17-9), ranked fifth by the coaches last week, emerged with the No. 3 seed.
Defending Division 2 champion Santiago of Corona, ranked third last week in the coaches’ poll, took the No. 1 seed.
Of the top-five contenders, only No. 2 Santa Margarita (21-6) and No. 4 Mater Dei (19-9) remained in the same position as their rankings last week.
There were no matches last week between the closely matched contenders, but their competition continued in the construction of the final coaches poll and playoff bracket.
“I don’t envy the (coaches) who did the polls because it’s really tough,” El Toro co-coach Brett McCleave said. “Any team in this division is dangerous as long as they are playing well.”
Agoura is testament to the depth in the division. The Chargers were ranked eighth in Division 2 entering the recent Irvine Southern California Championships but beat El Toro and then-No. 1 Santa Margarita to soar to No. 1 in the division last week.
Agoura coach Jason Rosenthal was surprised that his team jumped to No. 1 but said he was more shocked by the fall it took Sunday.
“It doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “(But) whoever is playing well in the top eight … could win the whole thing.”
In Division 1, Santa Barbara, which won the Irvine SoCal and Santa Barbara tournaments, earned the No. 1 seed. The rest of the top-four seeds went to No. 2 Foothill (23-3), No. 3 Corona del Mar (23-4) and No. 4 Newport Harbor (20-6).
Orange County’s depth in girls water polo certainly showed with the seedings in Division 6 and 7. Yorba Linda (17-4) and Ocean View (20-8) earned the top seeds in each division, respectively.
In Division 4, Troy (21-8) claimed the No. 2 seed behind Bonita of La Verne
The playoffs start Tuesday with wild-card and first-round games.