Saturday, July 19, 2014

Turmoil as Another Coaching Change Hits Newport Harbor Boys

Robert Lynn's departure as head coach of Newport Beach Water Polo Club has again thrown the boys' program in to disarray, as detailed by, just three years after the similar ousting of Lynn's predecessor Jason Lynch. Club athletes wore team t-shirts inside out at the California State Championship tournament to signal their displeasure with the change.

Lynn's removal as head coach of the club was announced via email to members on Thursday, according to the Daily Pilot, which also reported that the high school job was still his "as of now."
People with knowledge of the situation have told us that Lynn's tenure at the high school is also over. An announcement to that effect is expected soon.

Such a change would leave the legendary program in flux relatively soon after the controversial events that led to Lynch's dismissal in 2011 and just weeks before California boys' high school teams commence pre-season training for the fall. Potential replacements from within the organization include club Director of Operations Pavle Filipovic, former USA Men's National Team Assistant Marco Palazzo, and former Concordia University standout Stefano Ragosa. Palazzo and Ragosa are on the bench as the boys compete at this weekend's state championship invitational.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

UPDATED: California High School Championships, National State Challenge This Weekend

Villa Park, CA is home again beginning Friday to the huge, prestigious, and under-hyped (in our opinion) 2014 California High School State Championships, a tournament that nearly accomplishes what the state's interscholastic federation cannot: crowning whole-state boys' and girls' champions.

Unlike nearly every other state in which water polo is a sanctioned high school sport, California maintains its decades-old system of sectional championships. Each determines its own schedule, though all boys teams play in the fall and girls' seasons are divided between the fall and the winter. That asynchrony prevents the girls from holding a state championship. Thus, the boys are prohibited from doing the same for reasons of equity.

So emerged the summer invitational tournament, this year hosted by Villa Park Aquatics. As the schedule indicates, tournament organizers invite the state's big hitters and request they submit rosters that include only athletes who are eligible for the upcoming 2014-15 school year. Only one team so far has attempted to circumvent the rules and has not been invited back.

(Irvina Kahuna and its real-time scoring database is where you can find live scores from the CA State High School Championships, linked here.)

Meanwhile, the simultaneous National State Challenge tournament sponsored by American Water Polo will be in Upper Dublin, PA this weekend and features many of the best clubs from the Eastern US, including several that draw largely from well-known high school rosters. In addition, fans will be able to watch matches streamed live via AWP's portal.

Non-Californians Rising for US Men's Youth Team; Women Dominate with CA-Centric Roster

US Men's National Youth Team (via @mark2polo)
The USA Men's and Women's Youth teams both pocketed gold medals at the recently completed UANA Junior Pan American Championships in Riverside, California. The women went largely unchallenged defeating silver medalists Brazil by five scores and winning their matches by an average of 15.

The men avenged a loss in last year's competition held in Argentina where they fell to gold medalists Brazil in the tournament finale. The outcome was reversed this time as the Yanks overcame a 6-4 halftime deficit to earn a 10-9 victory.

Though the composition of the victorious women's team remained entirely Californian except for Punahou HS (HI) goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger, the men's roster featured four from outside the state, twice as many as its 2013 version and likely the most ever. USA Water Polo, which is keen to promote its efforts to expand the national pool of talent, quickly released a slick video (below) featuring the "rising stars" from Washington, Texas, Connecticut and Hawai'i. High Performance Director John Abdou emphasized the point with an unambiguous tweet linking the YouTube movie.
Based on the post-tournament statistics the non-"Cali" talent contributed significantly, tallying 36 goals over the course of the competition. A few statistical highlights from this and last year's men's tournaments:
  • In 2014, non-Californians made up 27% of the men's field players, but tallied 37% of the team's goals.
  • Bryce Hoerman of Cathedral Catholic High School in Del Mar, CA was named 2014 tournament MVP, but Greenwich, Connecticut's Thomas Dunstan was the squad's high scorer with 18 goals.
  • Timothy Simenc of St. Mark's in Dallas scored the most in one game in 2014: five versus Peru.
  • Dunstan was the only non-Californian field player on the silver medalist 2013 squad and scored three goals in the tournament, contributing just over three percent of the team's total output. (Mater Dei's Kent Inoue scored nearly 34% of that team's goals).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Former UC Irvine, Etiwanda Poloist Dies in Line of Lifeguarding Duty

Ben Carlson, a 2002 member of the UC Irvine men's water polo team and 1999 CIF-SS D5 Player of the Year at Etiwanda High School has died after attempting to rescue a swimmer in high surf at Newport Beach on Sunday. His death is the first in the history of the Newport Beach Lifeguard Department, in operation for over 100 years.

CBS News Los Angeles' story
Coastline Pilot story
ABC News story
Los Angeles Times coverage
The UK's Daily Mail coverage

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Survey: Highest Ever Participation in Florida Prep Water Polo

Figures from Florida's recently published 2013-14 sports participation survey show an all-time high for participation in high school water polo.  Nearly 2,300 athletes played interscholastic water polo in the 2013-14 school year according to the Florida High School Athletic Association, an improvement of over seven percent over the previous scholastic year.

More details of the most recent encouraging numbers out of the Sunshine State can be found in the TWp Fact Sheet linked here.