Southern California Girls’ Season Closes Today with Predictions

Ten girls’ prep water polo champions are crowned today in Southern California. Southern Section matches begin at 9:20 with Hemet vs. Ocean View in Division 7, and end with the Division 1 Back Bay clash between historic rivals, Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar at 6:30pm.

In La Jolla, the San Diego Section’s three championships start at 2:30 with Division III The Bishop’s School vs. La Jolla, and end at 7:30, Valhalla vs. upstart Ramona for the Division I title.
Final matches for the top three divisions in the Southern Section will be streamed live by Fox Sports West, and all of today’s game times can be found at TWp’s bracket tracker.

The predictions are in from the Orange County-based writers. OCVarsity.com’s Dan Albano picks Newport over CdM and Mater Dei to beat Trinity League rival Santa Margarita. Troy, Yorba Linda, and Ocean View also get wins, according to him. Matt Szabo of the Daily Pilot provides motivation to the Sailors, picking CdM to win by one.

The coverage continues for what Albano calls “…the greatest girls water polo season in Orange County history,” with pieces on legendary Newport coach Bill Barnett, inspirational stories on CdM’s Ashley Quinn and Newport’s Christina O’Beck, and a profile of sizzling Santa Margarita.

Outside the Orange Curtain the coverage continues: Los Osos’s rise, Palos Verdes’ dynamic duo, Crescenta Valley’s try at a first championship, Hemet and Riverside Poly attempt to bring championships to the Inland Empire.

And in the Union Tribune’s Glae Thien gives the brief on today’s San Diego matches, with Carlsbad and Bishop’s looking to repeat.

Predictions: The feature of the day undoubtedly comes in Irvine. The “Back Bay” matchup between Newport and CdM is at once a cliche and a classic, pitting against one another two of the most storied programs in US prep water polo history, which also happen to be situated not four miles apart on the map. Newport dismantled favored Santa Barbara in the semis and made a case for being the most dangerous team at the end of the season. Their defensive shut-down of the Dons should make the Sea Queens nervous.

But CdM proved itself resilient and gutsy in its memorable semifinal win over Foothill. They too were tested and can claim to carry momentum in to the final. In the final Newport’s short bench will betray them, despite their fearsome defense. The Sea Queens will get their win, but not by much. CdM wins 8-7.

TWp’s other picks:

  • Mater Dei’s girls are trying to join their boys’ team, winners of five straight CIF championships, on the winners’ stand, and will. The Monarchs win it by one in overtime.
  • Unfortunately for La Jolla, Bishop’s is simply the class of the section. The home pool advantage won’t be enough for the Vikings, and Bishop’s will end it’s DIII membership with a convincing win.
  • Neither Carlsbad nor Torrey Pines were challenged in their semifinal matches in which they each convincingly shut down the opponent. Both have potent counter attacks, so it will be fascinating to watch which team is better equipped to stop the other’s transition game. Michelle Martinelli was terrific in the semis. But the Lancers have a few more weapons. Carlsbad over the Falcons in a low-scoring defensive struggle.