Several Laguna Beach Water Polo Club teams will contend for Junior Olympic championships over the coming week as the national water polo tournament gets underway Saturday at various venues throughout Orange County.
More than 500 teams and 8,000 athletes are expected to compete for national championship titles in 18 divisions at USA Water Polo's 44th annual Junior Olympics which are divided by into two sessions: Session One starts Saturday and runs through Tuesday. Session Two begins Thursday and concludes Aug. 4.
Laguna Beach has qualified five teams for the Junior Olympics. Club founder Chad Beeler said that the 10-and-Under girls' team is ranked first among 10 teams in its division; the 10U coed team is ranked fourth out of 24 teams; the 12U girls' team is ranked 13th out of 24 teams; the 12U boys' team is ranked 14th out of 48 teams, and the 14U girls' team is ranked second among 48 teams.
Beeler said Laguna's 10U girls' and 12U boys' teams will play in Sessions One beginning Saturday. The 10U coed, 12 girls', and 14U girls' teams will compete in Session Two.
"Due to the hard work in practice by our coaching staff and polo players, I feel our teams will be ready to surprise everyone by placing better than what we are ranked going in," Beeler said.
In other water polo news:
•Annika Dries of Laguna Beach scored one goal and the USA Women's National Team won its second-straight game at the FINA World Championships be defeating Canada, 10-8, Tuesday at Barcelona, Spain.
The win secured first place in Group C for Team USA which improved to 2-0 in the tournament. The U.S. took on Great Britain Thursday . The score wasn't available at press time.
Dries scored from close range late in the second period. Her goal gave Team USA a 6-3 halftime advantage.
Team USA started the World Championships July 21 and defeated defending gold medalist Greece, 12-8.
— Mike Sciacca