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South County players excel in senior boys water polo all-star game Phillip Brents | Fri, Dec 21 2012 01:34 PM

More than 100 spectators were treated to a seesaw battle at last Saturday’s seventh annual San Diego County Senior All-Star boys water polo game at the Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Complex in Coronado — one that ended with a 14-13 overtime victory for the Large Campus team over the Small Campus team. 

Stephen Tifft of Bishops scored with five seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, but Vista’s Danny Hartwig scored 43 seconds into the extra period to produce the game-winner on the golden goal.

The Small Campus team had rallied from a four-goal deficit with less than four minutes to play in regulation.

The game was sponsored by the San Diego County Aquatic Council, a local non-profit organization that works to promote water safety throughout the region. This was the third consecutive win for the Large Campus team after the Small Campus won the first four all-star games.

Three Metro Conference players took part in the contest, all for the Large Campus team: Josue Alvarez and Daniel Lord from Mesa League champion Eastlake and Hilltop’s Nick Howard, the 2012 Mesa League Player of the Year.

Howard had one goal, one assist and one steal for the winners.

The game was a fundraiser for the San Diego County Aquatic Council, raising $528 that will be used for scholarships so that low-income youth can become lifeguards and swim instructors.

The San Diego County Aquatic Council sponsors free April Pools Day events throughout the county as a way to help educate San Diegans about water safety.  These events include presentations from Navy SEALs, some of whom attended the all-star game.

San Diego has averaged eight fatal child-drowning incidents for the past five years, but there has been only one fatal drowning this year.

The players were selected from schools throughout the county by the coaches, officials and members of the Aquatic Council. Robin Bregman of Serra High School coached the Small Campus team and Clint McLaughlin from Grossmont High School was selected to coach the Large Campus team.

Vista’s Rider Roberts led the Large Campus team in scoring with four goals, followed by Panther teammate Hartwig with three goals, Carlsbad’s Matt Ruple with two goals and Vista’s David Tanner, San Pasqual’s John Bryant, Mt. Carmel’s Derek Sultz and Carlsbad’s Rich Farley with one goal each.

Coronado’s Nick Wiley, La Jolla’s Jimmy LeBeau and Tifft paced the Small Campus team with three goals each while Cathedral Catholic’s Jacob Fujioka scored twice and Coronado’s John Hill and La Jolla’s Brock Macelli each scored one goal.

The Large Campus team took a 4-2 lead into the second quarter, but a goal by LeBeau tied the game at 5-5 with 15 seconds left in the first half. Led by two third-quarter goals from Roberts, the Large Campus team took a commanding 9-6 lead into the final quarter.

Trailing 12-8 in the fourth quarter, the Small Campus team got a boost with two goals from LeBeau in a 16-second span. Fujioka tied the game at 12-all with 1:48 to play.

Ruple scored what appeared to be the game-winner with 16 seconds left, but Tifft later tied the game and sent it into overtime.

 Players received a certificate acknowledging their selection and a challenge to continue to be ambassadors of aquatics, according to San Diego County Aquatic Council President Manual Gonzalez.

“Some of these kids will go on to play for premier collegiate water polo programs, but for many this is the culmination of their water polo careers,” Gonzalez said. “They were selected by a vote of the coaches, officials and members of the Aquatic Council, and I think that is a testament to their success as players. We want them to embrace aquatics, and continue to be champions of the sport for the next generation of athletes. We want them to become champions of drowning prevention.”

Gonzalez noted that the San Diego County Aquatic Council has zero administrative costs: the organization is comprised entirely of volunteers who are working to further aquatics and increase public awareness about water safety.

“The all-star game was better than expected when it came to action,” Hilltop coach John Salts said. “Both sides were pretty evenly matched. The big schools squad took an early lead and never fell behind, though the small schools squad kept it within four goals throughout the entire match.”

Hilltop’s Howard was selected to be on the first team for the Large Campus team and started at sprinter and strong side wing.

Eastlake’s Alvarez and Lord were on the second team and subbed in at the quarter, Salts noted.
Howard scored one goal on two shots.

“Nobody from the small schools who were matched up with Nick even got a shot off,” Salts explained. “Nick’s goal was a trademark Howard goal where he was set up on the strong side wing, faked to go left, drew the goalie and defender to the left then spun around so quickly to the right and shot that the goalie didn’t even get his hands up for an attempt to block ... goal into the far side netting.

“It was a great match and our boys from the Mesa League played hard and represented all of us very nicely.” 

Eastlake coach Chris Barrick concurred with Salts’ comments.

“It was a good and entertaining game,” Barrick said.  “The South Bay boys played well and represented our league proudly. Daniel Lord had two very good shots — one was a beautiful cross-cage shot that just went off the crossbar and on the other the Bishop’s goalie got a hand on.

“Josue had a couple of good inside moves to get open, but had one bad pass to him that was high and another that didn’t go.  All three boys played very good defensively.  It was very good high school water polo. Everyone got good playing time.”


•Kevine LeVine (Granite Hills)
•Dom Zocco (Carlsbad)

Field players
•Ryder Roberts (Vista)
•David Tanner (Vista)
•Matt Ruple (Carlsbad)
•Clay Wilson (Grossmont)
•Nick Howard (Hilltop)
•Thomas Hodgson (Granite Hills)
•Danny Hartwig (Vista)
•Darrough Riggs (Granite Hills)
•Julian Reisch (Grossmont)
•Josue Alvarez (Eastlake)
•Daniel Lord (Eastlake)
•John Bryant (San Pasqual)
•Peter Gamerdinger (Torrey Pines)
•Derek Sultz (Mt. Carmel)
•Rich Farley (Carlsbad)


•Caleb Schultz (Bishop’s)
•Elijah Belmontez (Coronado)

Field players
•Collin Stanley (Serra)
•Nick Wiley (Coronado)
•Jimmy LeBeau (La Jolla)
•John Hill (Coronado)
•Jacob Fujioka (Cathedral Catholic)
•Stephen Tifft (Bishop’s)
•Phil Walswick (Valley Center)
•Brock Macelli (La Jolla)
•Oliver Battaglia (El Capitan)
•Matteo Franchello (Ramona)
•Angel Sanchez (Serra)
•Cody Warford (El Capitan)

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