Water Polo: Costa Mesa 12Us making noise

NEWPORT BEACH — The local club with the hottest team in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics is the one making its first appearance on this national stage.

The Costa Mesa Aquatics Club 12-and-under boys have gone 4-0 over their first two days of action in the classic bracket, establishing themselves as gold-medal contenders.

CMAC "Black," which was seeded third, added two more dominant victories Sunday. Costa Mesa, coached by Costa Mesa High alumni Cody and Dustin Serrano, topped San Diego Shores B, 19-2, before blasting South Coast, 20-8.

CMAC will play SET in a quarterfinal match at 11:20 a.m. Monday morning at Mater Dei High, and is just two wins away from guaranteeing the program's first Junior Olympics medal. CMAC includes goalie Kevin Johnson, Jacob Garcia, Michael Burgard, Augustus Cunningham, Caedmon Fisher, Teak Zachary, Blake Hudson, Tristan Trepas, Stewart Campbell and Jose Albarran Quero.

The two local 18-and-under teams competing in the championship division, CdM Grey and Newport Beach Water Polo, had tougher times in the platinum division. They finished second and third, respectively, in the three-team group won by LA Premier, which featured Harvard-Westlake players.

LA Premier defeated CdM Grey, 11-6, and Newport Beach, 8-7, on Sunday. CdM Grey won the rivalry matchup against Newport Beach, 8-5.

But third-seeded CdM Grey, which features nine players from Newport Beach, was unable to top the LA Premier team featuring primarily kids who are two years younger. LA Premier's Johnny Hooper, who will be a junior at Harvard-Westlake, had six goals in his team's victory over CdM Grey.

Recent Corona del Mar High gradates Reid Chase and Danny Marshall each scored twice for CdM Grey, which can still make Tuesday's tournament semifinals with three wins on Monday. CdM Grey opens against Carlsbad at 8:30 a.m. at Newport Harbor High.

"It was just a pretty bad team effort on our part," CdM graduate Ben Zepfel, who will be a sophomore at Harvard, said of the loss to LA Premier. "I think we came out a little too cocky in that game. We all thought we were going to win. We didn't really expect what they had, and just did not play team water polo."

CdM Grey did earn the victory over Newport Beach. Zepfel scored twice, while Jake Wyatt, Dan Stevens, Chase, Marshall and Armen Mavusi all added goals. CdM went four for eight with the extra player, while holding Newport Beach to two for nine.

Mitchell Mendoza and Max Irving each scored twice for Newport Beach in the loss. Goalie Wyatt Muller also had a strong match with nine saves.

Zepfel said that victory was especially satisfying for him, especially since Newport Beach features five kids from Long Beach Wilson. That's the team that upset CdM for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 title in 2011-12, Zepfel's senior year at CdM.

"It's always a great feeling to beat Newport," Zepfel said.

But Newport Beach rebounded to top Team Vegas, 9-7, in its final match of the day at Ocean View High. Newport Beach will play SET in its first game Monday, at 10:30 a.m. at Newport Harbor High. Three straight wins would also put Newport Beach in the tournament semifinals.

Recent Long Beach Wilson graduate Jackson Kimbell (Stanford) scored five goals for Newport Beach against Las Vegas. Recent Newport Harbor graduate Curtis Fink (Princeton) added three goals, and Mendoza had a goal and a pair of assists.

Mendoza brought a skateboard to the pool deck at Ocean View High. Coach Robert Lynn kidded him about it after the match, but he wasn't kidding when he said that his incoming senior is playing well.

Mendoza had a couple of nice assists to Kimbell, who is a member of the Junior National team. So is Benjamin Stevenson of Team Vegas, who scored twice in the match, but Newport Beach was able to hold on.

"He only scored maybe one or two out of set," Lynn said of Kimbell, who had his highest scoring output of the tournament so far. "It was mostly counterattacks."

Local teams will hope to put forth a good attack Monday to set themselves up for Tuesday, the tournament's final day.

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