Youth Scene: Vanguard shines in JOs

The 10-and-under coed water polo team from Vanguard Aquatics in Huntington Beach won the national championship in its division at the 2013 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics.

Vanguard went undefeated in the tournament and capped its performance with a 7-3 victory over United (Los Alamitos), 7-3, in the championship division's gold-medal game Sunday at UC Irvine.

The 10U coed team, which competed in Session 2 of the two-session tournament, also scored wins against Davis Water Polo Club (15-4), MidValley Polo (9-4), SOCAL (9-5), Anteater (12-3), Laguna Beach (8-2) and defeated Shore Aquatics (Long Beach), 10-4, in the semifinals.

Myles Simpson was named tournament MVP for the division and led Vanguard offensively. James Rozolis-Hill and Brennis Lidecis played key roles on defense. In the gold-medal game, Lidecis came up with a "stellar" block in the opening minute of the game, Assistant Coach Brian Anderson said, and also blocked a penalty shot.

Anderson said the 10U coed team went undefeated during the season which started last September.

"These kids played their hearts out," he said. "The parent support was awesome. Coach Djoko [Radunovic] is the best age-group coach in the country. It was fun to watch these kids over the entire year, and how they battled through adversity and achieved great success.

"It is all about these kids and how they trained for 11 months for this game. It is going to be a great group to watch in the future"

The 10U coed team was the second team from Vanguard Aquatics to win gold at the 44th annual national competition. The 14U boys' Blue (A) team won the gold medal in its division on July 30 during the Session 1 phase of the tournament.

The 10U coed team is led by head coach Djoko Radunovic and assistant coaches Anderson, Uros Dzelebdzic, Sasa Branisavljevic, Ryan Camps and Kaleigh Esson. Team members are: Clay Kaneko, DJ Simpson, Dillon McCulloch, Ethan Crooks, Graham Cope, Grant Loth, James Rozolis-Hill, Myles Simpson, Raymond Macias, Sammy McClintock, Samuel Truxaw, and Zachary Bettino.

Session 2 of the Junior Olympics started Aug. 1 and ended Sunday.

More than 500 teams competed for national championship titles in 18 divisions.

— Mike Sciacca


Huntington Beach Water Polo Club

Huntington Beach Water Polo Club sent seven teams to the Junior Olympics and its 18U Blue girls' team won the silver medal Sunday as Session 2 of the tournament came to an end.

The 18U girls' Blue team reached the championship division gold-medal game at UC Irvine where it fell, 8-5, to Santa Barbara "A" which successfully defended its Junior Olympics title.

The 18U team, coached by Natalie Benson and Eric Benson, has reached the division's national championship game the past three years and won the gold medal at the 2011 tournament.

Huntington Beach's 18U girls' Orange team finished in fourth place in the Classic Silver division. The 16U girls' Blue team placed 11th in the Championship Platinum division, and the 16U girls' Orange team finished ninth in the Classic Silver division.

The 16U girls were coached by Jim Crowther and Katie Croghan.

The 14U girls' team, coached by Mark Canner and Sean Little, finished 20th in the Platinum Championship division.

During Session 1 of the national tournament held July 27-30,

Session 1 (Boys July 27-30) Highlights and Results:

During Session 1, the Huntington Beach 18U boys' team, coached by Mark Canner and Rilesh Desai, finished 16th out of 96 teams in the Championship Platinum division. The 16U boys' team, coached by Maarten Lefor, finished ninth among 108 teams in the Championship Gold division.

Huntington Beach Water Polo Club teams start training for next year's season on Sept. 2.

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