By Zach Cavanagh
Five teams from the San Clemente Tritons Water Polo Club and eight teams from the Orange County Water Polo Club competed in various divisions at the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics in two sessions from July 20-23 and July 25-28.
In the Championship Division, the top results came from the Tritons girls 12U team and the OCWPC boys 14U team, both claiming fourth place in their respective brackets.
The Tritons girls 12U team had an up-and-down opening in the tournament. The Tritons began with a 17-4 loss to Northwood but bounced back with a 10-1 win over Diablo Alliance. San Clemente next alternated again with a 12-5 loss to local rival SET but came back once more with a 10-0 win over Pegasus. San Clemente closed group play with a 13-6 win over Lamorinda.
In bracket play, the Tritons dropped their first round match to the San Jose Express, 10-7, but responded with a win in a tiebreaker shootout over CdM Aquatics, 6-6 (9-8). San Clemente got hit hard again in their next match, a 14-2 loss to Costa Mesa, to be sent to the third-place game. Santa Barbara Premier took the third-place match, 10-3.
The OCWPC boys 14U team was strong through group play. OCWPC won all four group games with a 19-6 win over San Jose Almaden, a 7-6 win over San Diego Shores, a 12-5 win over Huntington Beach and a win in a tiebreaker shootout over Foothill, 14-14 (3-2).
In bracket play, OCWPC lost its first-round match to Vanguard, 16-8, but came back with a tight win over Del Mar, 10-9. Newport Beach handed OCWPC a 12-7 loss in the semifinals to put the club in a rematch with Vanguard for third place. OCWPC battled, but the result was the same, with Vanguard taking third place, 14-10.
OCWPC’s boys 18U team had the next-best Championship Division result with a sixth-place finish. San Clemente’s girls 16U team took 10th.
In the Classic Division, San Clemente’s boys 12U team earned a podium position with a second-place silver. The Classic Division also saw a fifth-place finish by the Tritons girls 14U, a sixth-place finish by the Tritons boys 14U and an eighth-place finish by the OCWPC boys 18U.
In the Invitational Division, OCWPC boys 14U took fourth, and OCWPC boys 16U took 12th.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports.