Boys' Water Polo: Possible semifinal matchup highlights playoffs

Newport Harbor boys' water polo coach Robert Lynn is not one to talk about a potential opponent in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs and look past the first round.

But Lynn was willing to talk about No. 2-seeded Harvard-Westlake because he had coached there prior to Newport Harbor and helped with the building of a strong program for the Wolverines.

Newport Harbor, one of three Newport-Mesa area teams in the playoffs, is the No. 3 seed and if the brackets hold up, the Sailors will meet Harvard-Westlake in the semifinals Nov. 20 at William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine. The Wolverines beat Newport Harbor, 20-11, Sept. 20.

"The guys who are there now, I was helping formulate that team and it's a pretty good team," Lynn said Sunday after the playoff pairings were released. "It wasn't just about water polo when I left [two years ago]. I love those guys too. I was teaching at the middle school and getting them ready. That team is a very close team … But if we see them, we will definitely want to beat them."

Newport Harbor (21-4), the Sunset League champion, will need to win two games to reach the semifinals and the Sailors will start with a home game in the first round Wednesday against Long Beach Millikan (15-11), the Moore League's second-place team. The start time is scheduled for 5 p.m.

"We are playing pretty good right now, getting more confident and playing more as a team," Lynn said. "We played our best game when it mattered the most [in a 13-7 win over Huntington Beach for the Sunset League title Wednesday]. Our confidence level is good. We are getting the goals that we weren't getting before."

CdM (16-11), which shared the Pacific Coast League title with Northwood, received a challenging draw. The Sea Kings entered the playoffs as the PCL's No. 2 entry after losing a coin toss to the Timberwolves.

CdM opens the playoffs at home against Huntington Beach (20-9) Wednesday at a time to be determined. The Sea Kings beat the Oilers, 8-5, Sept. 26.

"We played them early this year and it was a close game," said CdM Coach Barry O'Dea, who has been pleased with his team's defense recently. "I know they've gotten better. We've gotten better. It should be a tough game. It's going to be kind of fun."

Wednesday's winner is set up to play against top-seeded Mater Dei (26-1), which had its win streak stopped at 105 games by San Diego Cathedral Catholic Saturday.

Mater Dei includes Newport Beach residents James Walters, Nick Silvers, Jeff O'Brien, Spencer Carroll, Neil LeVecke, Peter Seidner, Connor Talleur and Luke Wyatt.

The Monarchs open at home against Tuesday's wild-card winner of the matchup between Long Beach Poly at Crespi.

In Division 2, Costa Mesa (19-7), which finished second in the Orange Coast League, begins the playoffs with a wild-card game against Chaparral (8-5), which finished tied for third in the Southwestern League.

The Mustangs play host to Chaparral Tuesday at 5 p.m. It's a wild-card rematch from last year, also at Costa Mesa, where the Mustangs lost, 14-10.

Last year, Costa Mesa was led by Wyatt Ferris, who scored 111 goals and has graduated. This year, the Mustangs have a more balanced scoring attack and they are led on defense by junior standout goalie James Rydjeski.

Juniors Raymond Andrade, Quinn Smith and Matt Brown have been the leading scorers for Costa Mesa this season.

Rydjeski is key on defense, as well as on the Mustangs' counterattack.

"The kid is just supremely talented in the goal," Costa Mesa Coach Justin Taylor said of his goalie, who has been excelling despite dealing with a hyperextended right elbow. "He blocks a lot of balls he shouldn't and he has kept us in a lot of games. He's averaging about 13 or 14 saves each game. He's been playing extremely well."

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