Vanguard steps up in qualifier

It was a stellar weekend for teams from Vanguard Aquatics of Huntington Beach.

The program's 10-and-under coed and 14U boys teams won division championships and the 12U boys' team took runner-up honors at the Southern Pacific Zone National Junior Olympic Qualifier.

The three-day tournament started Friday and concluded Sunday and was held at various pools in the Orange County area. The tournament decides the entrants and seeding for the National Junior Olympic Championships held in late-July and early-August.

The 10U coed team took first place in the tournament and likely will be the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Junior Olympics tournament. Vanguard first defeated Orange County Water Polo Club, 6-2, in tough bracket play. The team then downed Costa Mesa Aquatics Club, 12-2, and in the semifinals, topped Corona del Mar, 7-3. Vanguard then defeated rival United Water Polo Club in the final, 6-2.

The 10U team is coached by Djoko Radunovic.

The 14U boys' team came in as the top seed in the tournament and backed its status throughout the weekend. Vanguard posted dominant victories over Valley Falcons (15-1), Chino Hills Area Water Polo (18-7), Saddleback/El Toro (17-4), Irvine Northwood (10-5), and in the semifinal game, bested Irvine Kahuna 13-4. In the championship game, Vanguard again defeated Northwood, this time, by an 11-7 score.

The title game victory sewed up the first-place medal and a No. 1-seed in the Junior Olympics for the team which is coached by Uros Dzelebdzic who is the 14s age group director.

The 14U Silver team finished in 14th-place among 30 teams.

The 12U boys won their first five games to reach the division final. Vanguard took wins against Valley Falcons (22-8), International of Los Alamitos (15-2), Irvine Kahuna(14-11), Northwood (15-7) and Anteater (8-4) en route to the final. In the title match, Vanguard, coached by Sasa Branisavljevic who also is the program's direction of operations, fell, 9-4, to United.

The 12U boys will be the No. 2-seed in their division at the Junior Olympics.

The 12U Silver team placed 20th among 30 teams.

— Mike Sciacca

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad