Vanguard Aquatics 10-and-Under boys' team turned in a strong performance in the second session of the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics Tournament at Stanford University.
The four-day tournament ended Aug. 3. The Vanguard boys' team played in the 10U Coed Division. The Vanguard girls' 10U team played in its own flight during Session 1 the previous weekend, and placed sixth in its division.
The Vanguard boys' 10U team was ranked No. 1 coming into the tournament. On the first day of group play, they defeated Rosebowl Aquatics and Mid Valley Water Polo to keep their top ranking.
In the re-bracket play during day two, Vanguard dominated Orange County Water Polo Club (OCWPC) and northern California power Lamorinda, winning both games by double-digit margins.
On the third day of competition, Vanguard took on Long Beach Shores. Vanguard jumped on Shores and took a 3-0 lead, dominated on the defensive side and ended up with an 8-2 win that put them in the semifinals. Vanguard went on to dominate Foothill Water Polo Club, 15-3, to advance to the division final and a showdown with North Irvine Water Polo Club.
In the title game, North Irvine scored first but Vanguard showed its composure and resiliency and went on to take a 3-1 lead after the first quarter.
The lead was 4-2 at the half but it was the third quarter where Vanguard showed its depth and championship pedigree, pulling far ahead of Irvine and eventually taking a 9-4 victory for the gold medal.
Tournament MVP was awarded to James Rozolis-Hill who served as Vanguard team captain. Rozolis-Hill led the team in scoring but also played an important role on defense as well.
Stellar defense was played by Ryder Dodd and DJ Simpson who was typically assigned with guarding the other teams' primary scorer. Left-handed players Zach Bettino and Joseph Hurley also excelled by provided opportunistic offense when needed.
Strong bench play also came from Sammy McClintock, Katio Ham and Bryan Huynh.
The gold medals makes it back-to-back 10U Coed Division championships for the Vanguard Aquatics 10u team. Head Coach Brian Anderson was thrilled with his team's performance over the course of the tournament and entire year.
"These kids understood that they were training for this moment and this tournament over the entire course of the year," said Anderson, who also is the head coach of the boys' water polo team at Huntington Beach High and serves as a Cadet National Team coach for USA Water Polo.
"They had a great time together creating friendships with one another that they will continue for a long time. It was an important element in teaching these athletes life lessons through sport and building great character at a young age.
"I am very proud of these kids and this team. They worked very hard and proved that they are national champions. It was fun having them throw me in the pool."
Kaleigh Esson, who coaches at Fountain Valley High, served as assistant coach for the 10U team.
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Shields wins swimming title
Former Edison High athlete Tom Shields of Huntington Beach won a national title at the 2014 USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine.
Shields won the men's 200 meter butterfly with a time of 1 minute 55.09 seconds Aug. 6, which earned him his first career long-course meters national title.
He won the event after finishing in fifth place (1:57.21) during prelims.