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Season isn't quite over yet for high-achieving SWC men's water polo team Phillip Brents | Thu, Oct 27 2011 11:45 PM

The season isn’t quite over just yet for the Southwestern College men’s water polo team. At 5-11, the Jaguars have made tremendous progress in and out of the pool after last year’s one victory season. But head coach Jorge Ortega also realizes there could have been a little more to achieve for his otherwise high achieving squad.

“This is a big step forward,” he said. “Our expectations for the season were hard to gauge because we had only one returning player. Team chemistry is a big part of being successful and I think we’ve only started to develop that the second half of the season. We have guys from eight or nine schools who had never really played together as a unit until this year.”

Southwestern wrapped up the seeding portion of its Pacific Coast Athletic Conference schedule on Oct. 26 with a 16-4 victory against visiting Miramar. Leonardo Perez (Hilltop) and Ian Muhlbach (Eastlake) each scored three goals while Luis Pimentel (Bonita Vista), Gabriel de Maria y Campos (Eastlake) and Ryan Wertz (Hilltop) each scored twice.

Tony Weidinger (Mt. Miguel) and Alejandro Castaneda (Montgomery) each recorded seven saves in split-time duty.

“I think team chemistry was a big part of our win over Miramar,” Ortega said. “It really showed in that game.”

Grossmont led the PCAC with an 8-0 finish, followed by Palomar at 5-3, San Diego Mesa at 4-4, Southwestern at 3-5 and Miramar at 0-8.

The teams will be seeded in that order for the PCAC championship tournament Nov. 4-5 at Palomar College.

As the No. 4 seed, the Jaguars will take on fifth-seeded Miramar for the right to play top-seeded Grossmont in the tournament semifinals while second-seeded Palomar will face third-seeded Mesa.

SWC dropped out of contention for the No. 2 or No. 3 seed following a 15-7 loss at Palomar on Monday.

“After we beat Palomar in the first round, I thought we might have a shot at second place,” Ortega said.

Instead, a key injury to Eastlake alumnus Justin Kruse, one of the team’s hardest shooters, put a damper on the Jaguars’ scoring potential over the second half of the season.

“We stayed pretty close to Palomar for a half, then they just wore us down the second half,” Ortega said. “They got some counter-attack goals and got some momentum going, and we couldn’t recover after that. We played well the first half.”

The Jags still have a shot at salvaging a .500 season. Southwestern will play four games at a tournament at xx this weekend prior to next weekend’s PCAC championships.

The Jaguars’ opening opponent is Saddleback, a team SWC already has beaten this season.

“Our goal is to go 4-0 for the weekend,” Ortega said. “But with four games in two days, it’s tough with on the guys with our low numbers.”

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