Saturday is the pinnacle of American interscholastic water polo: seven boys’ championships in CIF’s Southern Section, four in San Diego, six matches – boys’ and girls’ – in Central California, four more in the Central Coast Section. Plus collegiate conference championships tournaments from coast to coast: WWPA, SCIAC, MPSF, and CWPA. Their championships are all on Sunday.
More than ever the games can be viewed online, much of it for free and available on TWp’s Live Streams for all the available action. And see how they all arrived at this point via TWp’s Bracket Tracker.
As always, it wouldn’t be championship season without at least a few, select picks. Let the online debate begin, especially via Twitter.
- Harvard-Westlake arrives at its CIF-SS D1 final match undefeated and carrying a 36-game win streak. They have gone unchallenged this season – even by second-ranked and title finalist Mater Dei – and enter this match favored. Just over a year ago Mater Dei was considered nearly invincible. Those roles have quickly switched and now the Monarchs are given little chance to dislodge the Wolverines from its place atop the prep water polo scene. But Mater Dei recently got help with the return of attacker Nick Lavayen who adds punch to an offense that will have to deal with H-W’s stifling D. That and the proven coaching talents of the Monarchs could lead to an upset just as consequential as 2013’s. But it won’t. There’s nothing terribly complex or tricky about what the Wolverines do. They just do it better than any team in the country. And even the excellent Monarchs will not be able to overcome the smothering defense and lightning counterattack of the defending champs. Harvard-Westlake will win, 15-8.
- Sacred Heart Prep is again the best team in NorCal despite some stumbles (Laguna Beach and Miramonte figured the Gators out). But Menlo School, located literally right next to SHP, has tallied its own impressive run this fall. Despite their physical proximity the two have not met this season. The Gators are favored, as they should be because they will win. But it will be close: 12-10, Gators win the D2 title.
- The Gator girls will win their eighth consecutive section title today. Second-ranked Soquel has had a fine season and defeated Brenda Villa’s Castilleja in the semifinals. But SHP is simply too good for them today.
- The San Diego season has been an unpredictable one at the top of the rankings with the “big three,” Cathedral Catholic, Bishop’s and Coronado, all jousting for top billing. All three were placed in the section’s brand new “Open” division, an attempt to create some more competition among other divisions. Not surprisingly, two of the three have wound up in the title match. Something of a surprise that Coronado fell to Cathedral Catholic in the semifinal after having won an impressive NorCal Tournament championship earlier this fall. No matter. The Dons beat ‘Nado by one to return to the championship where they will meet Bishop’s of La Jolla in yet another classic matchup. The two have met twice this season with split results, Bishop’s winning the last meeting by one in early November. We say that trend will reverse, and Cathedral will add the inaugural “Open” title to its collection: 10-9.