Wed, Jul 06 2011 09:43 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
While the sport of water polo continues to develop within the Metro Conference, the roots for the success of prep teams are planted during the summer in club ball. To that end, the Mustang Water Polo Club is competing in this year’s East County Summer League, with girls 18-under games scheduled Tuesday at Valhalla High School and boys 18-under games Wednesday at El Capitan High School.
Summer league play faced off June 20 and concludes July 19.
Ernie Medina, Otay Ranch High School’s varsity girls coach, serves as the Mustang club’s summer coach. He is also assisting with the boys summer program as the high school team transitions to a new coach.
The Mustang summer club team, however, is not limited solely to Otay Ranch players. Members are also drawn primarily from Hilltop and Bonita Vista high schools.
Medina said about a third of the players involved in summer league play are new to the game.
“I wanted to have something down here so the kids can experience water polo without having to pay a lot of money and not travel long distances,” Medina said.
East County Summer League game sites include Valhalla for the Tuesday 18-under girls league as well as a 16-under girls league and El Capitan High School for a Monday 16-under boys league and Wednesday for an 18-under boys league.
The four circuits boast a combined line-up of 34 teams.
The league remains popular. The Mustang girls club team includes about 25 players, of which only 14 players can suit up for games.
“With summer ball, we’re looking to get the kids some time in the water and get them some experience,” Medina said. “For the girls team, we’ll go right into fall ball and then into the high school season.”
The Mustang girls team opened summer league play June 21 with a 10-2 setback to Rancho San Diego, Valhalla’s club team. The Norsemen are the defending San Diego Section Division II champions.
The Mustang boys squad faced off summer league play June 22 with a 7-6 setback to the Waterdogs, who are affiliated with Helix High School.
The boys game went back and forth throughout the contest. In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Mustang club had a power play advantage but missed a shot. Mustang had another opportunity with 1:35 left in the game on a steal by Mack Glass and give-and-go to Hilltop’s Stuart Sokil. Glass received the return pass but missed a shot with 20 seconds left. The Waterdogs then ran out the clock.
Sokil led Mustang with two goals, one steal and one assist while Mar Vista’s Justin Patacsil also scored two goals.
Otay Ranch’s Miguel Montes had one goal and one steal while Glass had one goal and two steals. Eric Stoke made eight goalie saves in the loss.
The Mustang boys got into the victory column on Wednesday via an 11-4 win against 94 Polo (Monte Vista). Sokil had four goals, two steals and one assist while James Cevallos had three goals, Montes had two goals, Carlos Uribe had one goal and one assist, Glass had one goal and three steals. Stoke led the defensive effort with 12 goalie saves.
The Mustang girls played two games on Tuesday, recording a 10-6 victory against Cowboy (El Capitan) and dropping a 7-6 decision to the Waterdogs.
Sarah Medina and Audrey Py led Mustang with three goals each in the win over Cowboy while Tori Kelly, Kerry Lindsay, Chelsea Tomlinson and Kelsey Eaton each scored one goal.
Medina and Py each had two goals in the loss to the Waterdogs while Lindsay and Tomlinson each scored once.
Eaton had eight goalie saves in the game against Cowboy and made seven in the game against the Waterdogs.
The 18-under leagues are designed for returning varsity players while two 16-under leagues are designed to promote the sport at the novice and junior varsity level.
The focus at both experience levels is on learning new techniques and sharpening skills in a no-pressure environment.
According to Robin Sanchez, who coaches both the boys and girls water polo programs at El Capitan, the emphasis at this time of the year is to have fun and get in as much water time as possible while also building camaraderie.
“It also allows the coaches to get better acquainted with other programs around the county and the kids get to know each other better,” Sanchez said. “It’s a positive experience all around.”
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