Twice in two years, the Corona del Mar High girls’ water polo team played again, less than a week after losing the big game.
A reporter in February asked Coach Aaron Chaney for his thoughts on the next event. Chaney stayed in the moment, his Sea Kings having just finished runner-up in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship.
The upcoming event, the Masters tournament, didn’t really matter to him.
Chaney won’t have to deal with such a silly question any time soon.
The CIF Southern Section council unanimously voted Tuesday to eliminate the Masters boys’ and girls’ water polo tournaments.
The event, in its third year, ended with the Sea Kings claiming the girls’ title in March, sort of making up for the 3-2 heartbreaking loss to Dos Pueblos of Goleta in the section final.
Chaney understands why the Masters failed to continue after the water polo advisory committee proposed eliminating the two-day event.
“It never really turned out to be what they wanted it to be,” Chaney said of the 16-team event, featuring the top teams from every division. “They wanted to bring teams from San Diego, Central California, up north, but it’s just anti-climactic because everybody really shoots for [a section title in the] CIF.
“We just had fun [in the Masters]. No pressure. We played hard, but we didn’t really take it too serious. It was fun practicing. It was something really to do after the season.”
Whether the sport has another regional or state tournament is up in the air. This troubles Jason Lynch, the Newport Harbor boys’ water polo coach.
Lynch said he talked to Kristine Palle, a CIF Southern Section assistant commissioner in charge of water polo, and she explained to him five other proposed regional championship events are ahead of water polo’s in the state plan.
“She said 2012,” Lynch said of the earliest a CIF State championship can be held in boys’ and girls’ water polo. “I think it’s unfortunate because the idea is to try to build a state tournament and they got rid of the Masters.
“It came down to financial issues. The last two years we’ve been helping out with boys’ and girls’ [Masters] tournaments, allowing the CIF to use our venue and desk workers so [it] can save money by issuing no pool fees. They were still losing money.”
Another problem Lynch cited is the girls’ teams in Northern California compete in the fall, when the boys do. The girls in the CIF Southern Section play in the spring, complicating the schedules for a state championship.
Getting rid of the Masters doesn’t affect every team locally. Tim Postiff, the Costa Mesa girls’ water polo coach, said it’s because “we actually never played in it.”
The Sea Kings almost decided to skip this year’s Masters. The team CdM lost to in the section title match withdrew. Another example to the committee of the lack of interest some programs had in the Masters.
“We were considering not playing,” said Chaney, not giving a reason why.
DAVID CARRILLO PEÑALOZA may be reached at (714) 966-4612 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.