The Ross Sterling girls followed through and repeated as champions with a three goal win over Cy Creek on Saturday. The intense matchup featured athletes who mostly knew one another from common club training. But that didn’t keep it from resulting in broken fingers and plenty of tears afterward. The Rangers succeeded in repeating with a 23-year-old rookie coach, Allie Hill, who was further rewarded with Coach of the Year honors. Freshman Callie Woodruff was excellent throughout the match and tournament as was teammate Aston Cole, only a sophomore, signaling a genuine youth movement among the best Texas girls. Cy Creek Senior Rebecca Eubanks also stood out and earned the majority of the Rangers’ defensive attention.
St. Mark’s did as expected, falling behind 0-2 before shredding Clear Creek 12-5 in the boys’ title contest. Tim Simenc, still only a Junior, probably won the MVP before the tournament started and was a dominating figure against the Wildcats. He was recently named to the US Men’s Jr. National B Team.
Southlake Carroll’s boys couldn’t match the size or depth of their consolation match opponents The Woodlands School and fell in a largely defenseless 18-11 contest. With St. Mark’s’ championship, an upset would have produced an even more memorable outcome for Dallas-area teams, which are demonstrably improving versus their well-established rivals from Houston. Carroll is broadly better since 2013 and are poised to be even more so a year from now with the return of Freshman Zach Lowery who had a spectacular final match, scoring six goals and showing uniquely deft decision-making for athlete of his age and size. Woodlands Jr. Daniel Laverne went on his own 10-goal rampage on the way to first team all-state honors.
USA Water Polo CEO Chris Ramsey was present throughout the final matches and had several positive things to say about the quality of play and the tournament’s organization. His presence, and that of 2004 Olympian Genai Kerr, lent an elevated sense of excitement among the teams and fans who remained. Ramsey’s role in supporting UIL sponsorship of the sport was a hot topic of conversation among coaches who generally recognize that its potential passage will be huge for the sport in the state.
Two days of championship water polo were not enough at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center at the University of Texas. Sunday the facility hosted the Texas Age Group Championships (TAGS) featuring clubs from the Texas “triad” of Houston, Dallas, and Austin.