Just five days after the season ended for his Corona del Mar High boys' water polo team, senior Reid Chase was on a plane for Singapore.
Chase headed overseas for training, prior to the inaugural FINA Youth World Championships in Perth, Australia. When he arrived down under, he discovered that he would be trying something new at the tournament for Team USA, coached by former Newport Harbor head man Jason Lynch.
Lynch had Chase guarding at two meters, something he rarely did in high school.
"The two-meter men I was playing against were just massively big," said Chase, who helped the U.S. finish eighth in the tournament. "The level of play up there was a lot different, and I feel like I became a much better player up there and more experienced. This is like the first time I've ever played two-meter guard. I had to adapt to it, but I picked it up pretty quickly."
Versatility always was a strength for Chase, the 2012 Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year. In many ways he stepped up for the Sea Kings (23-7), helping them win the Pacific Coast League and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals.
Chase, the league MVP and a first-team All-CIF Division 1 selection, led CdM with 84 goals and also contributed 31 assists and 36 steals.
"You could count on him," CdM Coach Barry O'Dea said. "He was going to come through. He came through for us in the biggest occasions, not only on the scoreboard. He was a guy who could put up goals, played great defense, counterattacked. He embraced the role — he really wanted to be that guy."
Chase, a repeat Dream Team honoree, is the cousin of 2011 Newport-Mesa girls' Player of the Year Alex Musselman, a goalie who is now at UCLA. He was one of four team captains for the Sea Kings boys, and definitely a leader.
He showed a sign of things to come over the summer, when he was tournament MVP as CdM captured the Pan Pacific tournament in New Zealand. He also helped CdM win an in-season tournament, the FINIS Memorial Cup in San Jose.
And, when the Sea Kings needed him most, he delivered one of his best games of the season. Chase had a game-high four goals and three steals as the Sea Kings rallied to stun rival Newport Harbor, 7-6, in a Division 1 quarterfinal on Nov. 10.
After the match, O'Dea called Chase the best player in the pool. Few who saw the match would argue. He scored in a variety of ways, including a quick lob shot from the left in the first half. Newport Coach Robert Lynn said the shot, which fooled his goalkeeper, was key in the Sea Kings' comeback.
Chase said that quarterfinal match was particularly rewarding for a CdM team on which only one player was not a senior.
"We felt that we had come together toward the end of the season," Chase said. "We knew we were going to have to give it all, and see what happened. The quarterfinal game was probably the highlight of my high school water polo career. I enjoyed that game so much. Winning with my team and having that crowd there was pretty spectacular."
O'Dea said Chase, who has a 4.3 grade-point average, is being looked at by a number of colleges. Chase said he has an official visit scheduled to Stanford in late January.
Whatever college at which he lands will get a hard-working kid who continually strives to be better.
"In four years the kid never complained, never missed a practice," O'Dea said. "He's all about being a good teammate and being a leader."
Here's a look at the rest of the 12-player Newport-Mesa Dream Team:
The senior defender rarely gave up a goal at two meters, earning a reputation as one of the best set guards in the CIF Southern Section. But Stevens, the Sunset League MVP, also stepped up his scoring for the Sailors (21-7), who won the league and advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals. Stevens was second on his team in both goals (49) and steals (35). A co-captain, he scored the game-winning goal as the Sailors beat league foe Los Alamitos, 9-8, to capture the S&R; Sport Cup for the second straight year. Stevens, a two-time Dream Team pick, is bound for Harvard.
Corona del Mar
Trush earned kudos for his defense but the senior was also very versatile for the Sea Kings. He posted up a lot and drew plenty of exclusions, and also was efficient on the counterattack. Trush, who has verbally committed to UC Irvine, was a first-team All-Pacific Coast League and first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division 1 selection. One of four team captains, he was fourth on his team with 33 goals and tied for third with 36 steals.
The 6-foot-4 Ferris certainly stood tall in his senior year for the Mustangs. He led the Orange Coast League with 117 goals, also leading Mesa with 54 steals. The 117 goals placed him fifth in Mesa program history in single-season scoring. Ferris' play, which included 10 goals against rival Estancia, helped the Mustangs (21-7) finish as high as second in the league for the first time since 2008. They advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, where they fell in a wild-card match.
Nakhjavani continues to be a key as the Lightning rebuild their program. The junior center scored a team-best 86 goals for Sage Hill, which finished 1-4 in the Orange Coast League. He was a first-team all-league selection. Look for Nakhjavani, a repeat Dream Team selection, to have a big senior year next year and possibly lead Sage back to the Division 2 playoffs.
Fink took over as the Sailors' go-to scorer following the graduation of 2011 Newport-Mesa Player of the Year Farrel South. The senior attacker, bound for Princeton, led Newport Harbor with 56 goals and 50 steals. He also showed his toughness, drawing a high number of exclusions for a non-center. Fink, a two-time Dream Team selection, also was a first-team All-Sunset League performer.
Corona del Mar
The senior was one of four team captains and the emotional leader for the Sea Kings. A first-team All-Pacific Coast League and second-team All-CIF selection, Watson had 27 goals, 30 assists and 16 steals. Watson, the younger brother of 2010 Newport-Mesa Player of the Year Chase Watson, also had a standout CIF quarterfinal match against the Sailors, after battling through sickness in a Battle of the Bay loss. In the CIF match, Watson tied the score at 6-6 in the fourth quarter, then provided the assist on center Armen Mavusi's game-winning goal with 4:05 left.
He is the lone sophomore and the only goalkeeper on this year's Dream Team. The Mustangs' captain totaled 300 saves this year, which ranks fifth in school single-season annals. He was a first-team All-Orange Coast League selection. Coach Justin Taylor, who also played goalie at Mesa in the 1990s, said Rydjeski was the team's vocal leader. Taylor said Rydjeski is extremely dedicated to the sport and one of the best goalies, if not the best, to ever come through the Costa Mesa program.
The senior co-captain was very valuable as an all-around player for the Sailors. Lee, a first-team All-Sunset League selection, was known for his good passing and also distributing the ball. Coach Robert Lynn said he also was a hard worker, spending plenty of time developing his shot. Lee had a team-best 32 assists, while adding 30 goals and 24 steals.
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Marshall often was the first player off the bench for the Sea Kings, but he produced like a starter. The senior was second on his team with 48 goals and added 17 steals. He also was a solid defender, O'Dea said. Marshall was second-team All-Pacific Coast League, as well as second-team All-CIF Division 1.
Silvers, a senior, was a go-to guy at center for the Sailors. The USC commit, a first-team All-Sunset League selection, finished with 33 goals, tied for fourth on the team. And even when he wasn't scoring, he was opening up outside shots for his teammates. Lynn said Silvers was a leader and always had a positive attitude.
Corona del Mar
Wyatt, a senior who was the Sea Kings' lone left-hander, was valuable and thrived in that role. The offense ran through him and he also became a bigger shooting threat, specifically in six-on-five situations. Wyatt was a third-team All-CIF Division 1 selection. His 56 assists led the team, his 37 steals ranked second and his 38 goals were third-best among Sea Kings.