JSerra denies Newport Harbor boys’ water polo ‘three-peat’
The Ryder Dodd world tour landed at Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday night.
Dodd, a senior at JSerra High, led the U.S. men’s national water polo team in scoring at the Pan American Games in Chile recently, culminating in a win over Brazil for the gold medal on Nov. 4 that qualified Team USA for the Paris Olympics.
A week later, he was back in the pool for his high school team for the biggest game of the boys’ water polo season.
On either stage, the USC-bound Dodd knew how to deliver.
He scored on his first five shots Saturday, helping JSerra topple Newport Harbor 16-10 in the CIF Southern Section Open Division title match.
“He’s an unbelievable talent, but he’s also a great worker and a great kid,” JSerra coach Brett Ormsby said. “He cares about others and he leads, so I’m really proud of him. I mean, dude, he’s 17, this is just the beginning.”
Top-seeded JSerra (27-0) kept its undefeated season going, pulling away in the second half to deny No. 2 Newport Harbor (26-4) its third straight CIF title.
Newport Harbor had beaten JSerra 10-9 in last year’s final.
“It means so much,” Dodd said. “Going back to last year, that was really upsetting to me … Newport Harbor plays with a lot of heart, and there’s a rivalry there.”
Bode Brinkema, a senior attacker also bound for USC, also netted five goals for the Lions.
The Sailors started well and took a two-goal lead four different times in the first half. Senior Gavin Appeldorn had a pair of early goals, while senior Peter Castillo and sophomore Connor Ohl also scored twice in the first half.
But JSerra’s Milan Sumich scored a power-play goal at the halftime buzzer, cutting Newport Harbor’s lead to 7-6. The Lions then blitzed the Sailors for seven goals in the third quarter, including three by Dodd.
“We just had a lot of individual breakdowns, missed assignments,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said, adding that he was very proud of his team for making it back to the CIF title game for the fifth straight time overall. “You’ve got to go through these processes to get to that next step. To win at this level is really hard, and to have sustainable success takes a lot of work. I’m beyond proud of these guys, and beyond proud of where our program is and where it’s going to continue to go.”
Ohl led the Sailors with four goals, while sophomores Mason Netzer and Kai Kaneko also scored. Netzer had a pair of assists.
JSerra won its second CIF Southern Section title, having also won the Division 4 title in 2019. Newport Harbor was seeking its 15th crown.
Both teams will compete in the CIF Southern California Regional tournament that begins Tuesday.
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