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Chase Dodd of Huntington Beach High boys’ water polo headed to UCLA

Chase Dodd, shown in October 2019.
Chase Dodd, shown in October 2019, earned first-team all-league and first-team All-CIF honors for Huntington Beach as a junior.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Chase Dodd has been a dynamic player for the Huntington Beach High boys’ water polo team for a while now.

With several members returning to a team that pushed eventual champion Studio City Harvard-Westlake in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals last year, the Oilers looked to contend for the Division 1 title in 2020-21.

COVID-19 had other plans, as the section canceled fall sports playoffs on Jan. 19. What it hasn’t done is kept Dodd from making his choice of where he will be playing at the next level.

He recently signed with UCLA men’s water polo.

“I’m really, really stoked,” Dodd said. “I feel like next year, it’s going to be up to anyone to win [the NCAA championship] … With the recruits coming in and the team that’s already there at UCLA, I feel like they’re really going to be a team that people are going to have to watch out for.”

Dodd said he was also seriously considering Air Force.

Huntington Beach's Chase Dodd, right, defends against Harvard-Westlake's Ethan Shipman in 2019.
Huntington Beach’s Chase Dodd, right, defends against Harvard-Westlake’s Ethan Shipman in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff semifinals on Nov. 13, 2019.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Opponents have had to watch out for Dodd in high school water polo. The attacker, a USA Water Polo Youth National Team member, was a first-team All-Surf League and first-team All-Division 1 player as a junior. He scored 33 goals during league play alone, also earning first-team Daily Pilot Dream Team accolades.

Huntington Beach boys’ water polo coach Sasa Branisavljevic, who has coached Dodd since he was 11, called him the engine of the team and “a monster, in the best possible sense.”

“He’s the guy that doesn’t get phased by any outside circumstances,” Branisavljevic said. “He stays pretty consistent, scores goals. He’s very relentless. He’s the one warrior that you just sent to the front of the line, and he’s able to pull the team with him. He scores the most goals, sprints for the ball, doesn’t need a sub … You don’t get those guys too often.”

At UCLA, Dodd will continue as a teammate to Oilers left-hander Ethan Crooks. The other Huntington Beach senior to commit is Tyler Padua, who is headed to UC Irvine.

The Bruins already have a Huntington Beach product in junior attacker Jake Cavano.

“I’m very excited to keep playing with [Crooks],” Dodd said. “We’ve always been really good teammates and had really good chemistry. We’ve had a long time to know each other and really adapt to how we work well with each other, and I feel like that will transfer over to UCLA.”

Though a CIF ring is off the table this year, Branisavljevic said the Sunset League hopes to play league games in March, if the COVID-19 numbers get better. Water polo is currently designated as an orange (moderate) tier sport, defined by the state as 1 to 3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 people testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Oilers will be competing as Vanguard club team in the Eggbeater Invitational tournament scheduled for Feb. 13 and 14 in Utah. Dodd said it will be the team’s first meaningful competition since a Futures League tournament last March.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a substitute for CIF, but it’s a pretty good tournament to get our grips back in water polo,” Dodd said.

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