Six Valley teams in two Divisions competed in the CIF Southern Section – Ford Water Polo Championships, presented by Farmers. Temescal Canyon made it to the Finals and finished second for the second year in a row.
Vista Murrieta, Chaparral and Great Oak each won their wild card round games to advance. Vista Murrieta defeated Canyon 14-11 and then lost to Dos Pueblos 13-7 in the first round. Chaparral beat Costa Mesa 14-10 and were eliminated by Damien 18-8. Great Oak defeated Chino Hills 16-7 and Santa Barbara ended their playoff dreams 18-7.
Local powerhouse Murrieta Valley – league champion twelve of the last 13 years – earned a first round spot and easily dispatched San Marcos 14-7. Murrieta Valley (22-11) advanced to the quarterfinals round to face Laguna Beach (21-9), Orange Coast League Champions and #3 seed in the Division. The Nighthawks had lost to the Breakers earlier in the season 11-6.
The Breakers scored first, but the Nighthawks led 5-3 at halftime. The score was tied midway through the third quarter; the Nighthawks took a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter on a goal by Tristan Reinhardt. The Breakers tied it up on a penalty shot and took the lead on a 6-on-5 advantage. Evan Price tied it up for the Nighthawks, 8-8 with 3:30 left. Laguna Beach scored with one minute left and then again on an open-cage goal in the final seconds to win 10-8. Goals were scored by Price (3), Reinhardt (2), Talon Gay, Ben Schleuniger, and Tyler Dudek. Goalkeeper Bryse Knowles had ten saves.
Lakeside and powerhouse Temescal Canyon, #3-seed, earned first round berths. Lakeside edged out Nogales 14-13 and were eliminated by La Quinta 16-5. Temescal Canyon dominated Cabrillo of Oxnard 14-6 and then defeated Hemet 11-7 in the quarterfinals. The Titans have played most of their season without top attacker Devin Deckert who broke his jaw in tournament play early in the season. He accounted for 110 goals last season.
In the semifinals on Nov. 14, the Titans (20-12) came from behind and survived 6-5 against #2-seed Oaks Christian. Jack Gallagher contributed three goals; Jesse Hayward had two. Goalkeeper Gary Smith recorded eight saves. They advanced to face #4-seed La Quinta (25-5), Desert Valley League Champion in the finals at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine on Nov. 17.
Temescal Canyon lost 10-7. They were behind twice in the first quarter but took the lead with four minutes left in the second quarter. The lead lasted 30 seconds. LaQuinta outscored Temescal Canyon 4-2 in the third quarter. Junior attacker JP Trenary had three goals, Hayward had two, Austin DeJong and Joseph Rivas each had one. Smith recorded nine saves.
The Titans also made it to the title game last year and lost 16-10 to Beaumont.
Congratulations to all our Valley water polo teams!