Laguna Beach Water Polo's 14-Under girls won gold at the Southern Pacific Junior Olympic Qualifying Tournament and bronze at the US Club Championships in recent action.
Laguna took first place in June at the Regional Junior Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Qualifying Tournaments are held nationwide in different regions, to choose a select group of teams to compete at the upcoming National Junior Olympic Water Polo Championships.
In the gold-medal game of the Regional, Laguna battled top-ranked SOCAL which won the previous two meeting between the teams. This time, Laguna, used a last-second goal to come out on top in an exciting game, 6-5.
On the weekend of July 6-7, Laguna traveled to the invitation-only US Club Championships and returned home with the bronze medal. The tournament included the top 16 teams in the nation in the 14U division.
In the preliminary rounds of the tournament, Laguna racked up three straight wins over Xtreme (Corona, CA), SET (Lake Forest) and Rosebowl (Pasadena). In a quarterfinal matchup, Laguna kept San Diego Shores at bay and came away with an 8-5 win.
Laguna's semifinal opponent was top-ranked Santa Barbara. Laguna held a two-goal lead at the half but in the second half, Santa Barbara's more experienced team pulled ahead and won, 13-7.
In the bronze-medal game, Laguna faced the 680 Drivers (Northern California) and in a tough, neck-and-neck game, Laguna emerged with a 9-7 win.
"These past few weeks have brought some extremely tough competition for our Laguna 14 and under girls and they have performed very well as a team," said Chad Beeler, director of Laguna Beach Water Polo Club. "Winning the Southern Pacific Junior Olympic Qualifying Tournament, then taking bronze against the best 14U girls teams in the country, has been great preparation for the upcoming National Junior Olympics."
The Laguna 14U girls' water polo team: Aria Fischer, Sydney Baba, Danielle Borelli, Evie Cant, Thea Walsh, Kyla Whitelock, Evan Tingler, Audrey Duffy, Angelique Begay, Isabel Riches, Katya Cox-Kruger, Alana Evans and Sophia Lucas. Coaches: Erich Fischer, Matt Tingler.
Laguna Beach Water Polo has qualified five teams for USA Water Polo's 44th annual Junior Olympics that start July 27 and run through Aug. 4 in Orange County. Laguna has qualified its 10U girls, 10U coed, 12U girls, 12U boys and 14U girls. The Laguna 14U boys didn't enter a team this year.
The Junior Olympics are divided into two sessions , July 27-30 and Aug. 1-4. All competing teams must qualify for the tournament through local Zone Qualifying tournaments.
— Reader submission