HBWPC 18-and-under team falls in semifinals

Huntington Beach Water Polo Club sent its 18-and-under girls' team to UC Davis for the California Cup State Championship Tournament held over Memorial Day weekend.

Huntington Beach faced an early challenge as their first game pitted the team against Diablo, a program from Northern California that finished second at last summer's Junior Olympics national tournament. The girls from HB upset the favored Diablo team, 5-3 and continued their winning ways by defeating the other teams in their bracket.

Huntington Beach fell in the semifinals of the tournament but ended on a high note by taking home third-place. After a quick turnaround, the team was back in action as they faced their most important tournament of the year, the Junior Olympics Qualification Tournament at Beckman High in Irvine.

Huntington Beach breezed through bracket play defeating Mater Dei's club team, Regency, and another team from Fullerton Hills. They then defeated Newport Harbor but lost to perennial power and recently upgraded SoCal club.

In the tournament semifinals, Huntington Beach was paired against reigning national champion SET (Saddleback-El Toro). Huntington Beach controlled the match and built a four-goal lead after three quarters but SET would battle back to tie the game. Huntington Beach scored last and held off SET's attack for a 10-9 win. The win put them in the finals with another chance to topple SoCal. In a tight game, the teams battled to a 6-6 stalemate and the championship was decided by shoot-out won, 10-9, by SoCal.

In the end, Huntington Beach 18-and-under girls finished in second-place – they defeated Diablo, 7-5, in the bronze medal game - and secured their spot at the upcoming Junior Olympic National Championship Aug. 5-8 in the greater-Los Angeles area.

— Eric Benson, Community Correspondent

The Huntington Beach Water Polo Club 16-and-under girls' team has gotten off to a great start this summer. The team traveled to Davis over Memorial Day weekend to compete at the California Cup State Championship.

HBWP's 16U girls' team won the cup by beating Santa Barbara, 7-6, in the gold-medal championship game. Led by goalie Savana Smith (Los Alamitos High) and attackers Alys Williams (Edison) and Yoshi Andersen (Laguna Beach, the team's tough defense was the key to winning the championship.

Last weekend, both the HBWPC girls' 16-U and 18-U teams competed in the SOPAC Zone Junior Olympic qualifying tournament. The top seven teams in each age group are eligible to compete in the upcoming National Junior Olympics, and both Huntington Beach teams qualified.

The 18-U girls' team had a superb tournament, getting all the way to the championship game against Socal. The team was anchored by goalies Kelly Ringel (Long Beach Wilson) and Morgan Klingfus (La Habra). The Huntington Beach 16-U girls beat Newport, 10-3, in their final game to finish fifth in the tournament.

— Vicky Barker, Community Correspondent

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