Only one local school has changed divisions for boys’ water polo as the CIF Southern Section has released playoff groupings for the fall season.
Sage Hill School moves up from Division 5 to Division 4. The Lightning reached the second round of the Division 5 playoffs last year, coach Pavle Filipovic’s first at the helm. They were competitive in their second-round loss at No. 2-seeded Oxnard Rio Mesa, falling 7-4.
Otherwise, it will be more of the same for local programs. As they were last year, Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Harbor all will be in the 29-member pool of teams that will compete in either Division 1 or 2. The top eight teams in that group at the end of the season, based on advisory committee recommendations and power rankings, will compete in the Division 1 playoffs.
Of the local teams, Newport Harbor and Huntington Beach advanced to Division 1 last year. The No. 4-seeded Sunset League champion Sailors lost to eventual champion Mater Dei 9-3 in the semifinals, bouncing back for a 6-4 third-place victory over Harvard-Westlake.
Newport Harbor is expected to return Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year Makoto Kenney, who will be a junior and was recently named to the U.S. men’s youth national team for the UANA Junior Pan American Championships in Florida in July, along with fellow Sailors incoming junior Ike Love, CdM junior-to-be Tanner Pulice and Huntington Beach graduating senior Garrett Zaan.
No. 6-seeded Huntington Beach had a tough go in the Division 1 bracket last year, suffering three straight losses to finish eighth.
Corona del Mar suffered several close losses to Division 1 opponents last season, failing to make the top eight. But the Sea Kings made the most of being in Division 2, advancing to the title match before losing to Foothill, 10-7.
Laguna Beach lost in the Division 2 semifinals last season to Redlands East Valley, 6-5.
Costa Mesa and Edison both remain in Division 3, where the Mustangs edged Vista Murrieta 9-8 in the first round last year before losing to Servite 13-10.
Fountain Valley stays in Division 4, while Marina is the Sunset League team in the lowest division, as the Vikings stay in Division 5. Neither team made the postseason last year after finishing fifth and sixth respectively in league play.
Ocean View also will remain in Division 5. The Seahawks beat Hacienda Heights Wilson 12-6 in the first round last year before losing to eventual champion Temescal Canyon 20-11 in the second round.