Five teams from Laguna Beach Water Polo Club will begin vying for division championships Saturday when the 2011 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics get underway.
Laguna Beach teams qualifying for the national competition are the 10U mixed (coed), 12-and-Under boys, 14-U boys, 12U girls and 14U girls teams.
The tournament begins with Session 1 (boys) competition that runs Saturday through Tuesday. Session 2 (girls) starts Thursday and concludes Aug. 7.
The 42nd edition of Junior Olympics water polo includes added age group divisions and more games that will be played at more than 20 pool sites in Orange County. According to juniorolympics.com, pool play games that involve Laguna Beach teams will be played at the following sites:
10U Mixed: El Toro High; William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
14U Boys: High school pools at Aliso Niguel, Dana Hills, Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita and University, and the Woollett AC.
12U Boys: Golden West College, Huntington Beach; high school pools at San Clemente and Tesoro High; Woollett AC.
14U Girls: High school pools at Dana Hills, Tesoro and University; Woollett AC.
12U Girls: Mission Viejo High; Woollett AC.
The National Junior Olympic championship medal games are scheduled for the Woollett Aquatic Center. Championship games will be played in Gold and Platinum divisions with the exception of the 21U Men's and Women's divisions.
Laguna Beach's 14U boys' team is the No. 22 seed in its division and is part of a four-team Pool B bracket.
Laguna Beach's 12U boys' squad enters the tourney seeded at No. 20.
Coach Chad Beeler said his team has had a rough season and hasn't played with a complete squad because injury, illness and vacation. The team also played in non age-group tournaments.
"We will now be at full-strength and I think we are ready," Beeler said. "I know they can do it."
Laguna Beach's 10U mixed coed team is the No. 18 seed in the division.
"I am very proud of the team," 10U Coach Albie Beeler said. "They came a long way from when they started in September. They are all very enthusiastic and I hope we bring the cup home."
Laguna Beach's 14U girls' squad, the No. 2-seed in its division, is in Pool B. The team turned in the following results in major tournament and summer league play: 49th annual SPA Cup Regional (second place); Cousineau Cup (second place); Orange County Cup (fifth -place); Winterfest (third place); Laguna Beach Cup (first place); Commerce Cup (first place); Regional Junior Olympics Qualifier (first place); U.S. Club Championships (10th place).
The 14U girls are coached by Scott Baldridge and Erich Fischer.
"Winning the Regional Junior Olympics proved to ourselves and other teams that Laguna is one of the toughest teams at this level. " Baldridge said. "It will be one of the most competitive fields in recent history for the 14 girls but Laguna Beach is looking forward to challenging for the title."
Laguna Beach's 12U girls' team is the No. 2-seed in this division and the top seed in Pool B.
The squad recorded the following finishes in major tournament and summer league play: 49th annual SPA Cup Regional (first place); Winterfest (second place); Orange County Cup (first place); San Diego Cup (second place); Regional Junior Olympics Qualifier (first place); U.S. Club Championships (second place).
Baldridge and Fischer also coach the 12U girls.
"It will be a tough challenge to beat out some of the other elite teams at this level, but we are excited to see if we can win it all," Fischer said.