Only the Panthers realized their dream and won the Division V title with a 12-10 win over the Nitros after having reached the final stage and coming up empty the two previous years. Players from Poly, Glendale and La Cañada, which fell to M.L. King in the Division III final, 14-9, were recognized when the All-Southern California and California-Hawaii All-American water polo teams were unveiled on Jan. 13.
Spencer Rogers of the Panthers, Chase Borisoff and Symeon Stefan of the Spartans were both named All-American, while the Nitros’ Arman Momdzhyan was an All-American honorable mention. Those four were also elected members of the All-Southern California team, along with Poly’s Kelly McGee.
“It's really cool, especially considering Poly is in a lower division and to be recognized by coaches of higher divisions and throughout the state for my accomplishments,” said Rogers, who was a sixth-team All-American and third-team All-Southern California selection, respectively. “It's really cool.”
Rogers, a three-year varsity player, said the Panthers progressed each year in their pursuit of a CIF title. It was “more of a fluke” when they reached the final in 2010, he said, while the 2011 squad realized they had a good chance to win it all.
“We were expecting to win everything and to come up short again in the championship game really hurt,” said Rogers, who’s the first Poly player to be named an All-American since Timmy Gilfillan in 2009. “None of the guys gave up and we pulled together and tried to do it one more time. The way we played together as a team and how we got along contributed to us being able to do it and knowing that none of us wanted to feel as bad as we did when we lost both times.”
Rogers has had a number of opportunities to relive this past season, as he was named the Division V and Prep League Most Valuable Player in the offseason after he put up 117 goals, 57 steals and 51 drawn ejections in 2012.
McGee was a sixth-team selection for the All-Southern California team after scoring 39 goals, 30 assists and 42 steals, while earning first-team All-CIF and all-league honors.
Now the goal for Rogers, a junior, and Poly is to reach the title game for the fourth consecutive season.
“That would be unreal and that's what I want to do,” Rogers said.
La Cañada Coach Devon Borisoff said being named All-American carries great weight as a Spartan, as every water polo player receives a personal banner for the year they earned the distinction that’s hung at the school’s pool.
“It's very prominent and everyone sees it,” he said. “It's a huge goal for everyone to make All-American and get one those banners. I know it’s something I always thought about as a 10, 11-year old.”
Chase, Devon’s younger brother, was in complete agreement.
“I can guarantee you almost every senior on the team this year knows all the people who made All-American and by what year,” said Chase, who racked up 108 goals, 135 assists, 47 steals and 78 drawn ejections this year. “In practice, you kind of zone out and look at them. I've always wanted one of those banners my whole career, I'd rather have a ring on my finger, but this is still good.”
Chase and Stefan were awarded with All-CIF first-team and Rio Hondo League co-Player of the Year honors in their senior campaigns. Stefan, a utility, piled on a team-high 142 goals and 62 assists.
Chase, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Water Polo Player of the Year, was a seventh- and fourth-team All-American and Southern California selection, while Stefan was a ninth-team All-American and fifth-team Southern California member.
“It's nice to get All-American, but it really shows a team effort because you only get it if your team does really well,” said Chase, a senior. “We did well as a team this year and were put in a position to get this award.”
Momdzhyan was named the Pacific League Player of the Year for the Nitros, who won consecutive league titles. The driver tallied 136 goals, 22 assists and 25 drawn ejections and was also an All-CIF first-team member.
“I am kind of happy, and I kind of think I deserve it a little bit since I worked really hard and my team worked really hard,” said Momdzhyan, who was elected to the All-Southern California sixth team and All-American honorable mention. “It's good we're getting the recognition.”
The Nitros standout junior said the awards won’t make him complacent, but motivate him, especially the honorable mention.
“It's nice but it's not going to stop me from working,” Momdzhyan said. “I don't want just honorable mention; I want to be up there with all the great names.”