JO polo berths wrapping up for Stanford WPC boys and girls | June 27, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 27, 2014

JO polo berths wrapping up for Stanford WPC boys and girls

by Keith Peters

The boys from the Stanford Water Polo Club were busy this past weekend at both ends of the state while playing in various tournaments.

The 16A team went down to Orange County to compete in the Ironman Superfinals, finishing fourth. The tournament was a culmination of season-long league play between the top club teams in Northern and Southern California.

Stanford's Benoit Viollier (St. Francis) was named goalie of the tournament.

At the Pacific Zone qualifying tournament for next month's Junior Olympics, Stanford's 18-under 'A' team beat Lamorinda in dominant fashion in the championship game, 10-2. Sacred Heart Prep seniors Nelson Perla-Ward and Will Conner each scored three goals. Incoming Stanford freshman and SHP grad Harrison Enright added two while Menlo School senior Nick Bisconti added one.

Immediately following the game, Bisconti flew to Southern California where he will be training and competing with the U.S. Junior National Team.

"We had a very strong performance and balanced game against Lamorinda on Sunday in the championship," said 18A head coach Colin Mello. "The team played as well of an all-around game as you can ask for at this point during the summer. We played great team defense, didn't allow many natural goals, and did a solid job of funneling shots to our goalie, Jack Turner, who did his job in the cage. I don't know many teams that have allowed two or less goals and lost a game. So if we can play that kind of defense going forward we'll always have an opportunity to win the game.

"Offensively, we attacked in multiple ways which is what we're always looking for. Harrison Enright and Nick Bisconti both played great games inside at 2M and the perimeter players around them did a great job of getting the ball into them and also scoring from the perimeter. Nelson Perla-Ward and Will Conner both had great shooting days. Additionally, the team as a whole was outstanding in transition and really set the pace of the game. Our bench didn't allow the pace to slow as they came into the game and that is where we really separated from the competition."

The victory in the finals earned Stanford the No. 3 overall seed for the Platinum Division of the Junior Olympics.

"Going forward, it is hard to say where we will fall," Mello said. "There is a lot of unknown with the Southern California teams. I think we are off to a good start and if we can improve from here we have the capability of pushing any 18&under team in the country."

Just as impressive, the Stanford 18-under 'B' team finished third at the qualifier after beating West Valley in the third-place game 8-7. The win puts both Stanford teams among the top three from the zone out of 18 teams that competed.

"I liked that we were able to improve each game we played," said 18B head coach Brandon Johnson. "As the weekend went on and the games became tougher and more important, we were able to raise the level we played at. We had a few close games and I was happy to see us able to grind them out and find ways to win them.

"Spencer Whitte (goalie, Menlo School) played very well for us all weekend. He came up with numerous big saves through out the weekend."

Ari Wayne (Gunn), Rishabh Hedge (Lynbrook) and Riley Preston (Bellermine) were Stanford's top scorers on the weekend.

The 14-under teams also had a great weekend at the qualifying tournament. Out of 28 teams in competition, Stanford had three teams finish in the top six as the 'A' team took third, the 'B' was fifth and the 'C' was sixth.

"We were the only club with at least two teams in the top eight," said Jon Barnea, who oversees the club program. "And, this was the highest placing finish for any 'C' team in our club's history."

This coming weekend will be the final weekend of JO Qualifying competition with Stanford's 16B, 16C, 12 A, 12B and 10-under squads all competing for spots in the Junior Olympics, which will be hosted by Stanford with matches at many of the local pools.

The world's largest water polo tournament begins July 26 and runs through Aug. 3.


The Stanford Water Polo Club qualified its 18A and 18B teams during the weekend in the East Bay with the 'A' squad taking second the the 'B' team fourth.

The 'A' team, coached by Kyle Utsumi, opened with a 19-4 win over NCA and followed that up with a 13-6 victory over Lamorinda on Saturday. Stanford reached the finals on Sunday with a 9-8 shootout win over Diablo before falling to 680 in the title match, 9-7.

The 'B' team, coached by Mark Hernandez, opened with a 12-2 win over Marin and a 12-4 triumph over West Valley on Saturday. In the semifinals Sunday, Stanford was routed by 680, 17-1. In the third-place game, Stanford dropped a 12-3 decision to Diablo.

"18A is looking forward to building on last year's 10th-place finish," Utsumi said of the 2013 JO tourney. "We are looking forward to seeing where we stack up at the US Club Championships July 11-13.

"We are pleased to place our 18B in the championship bracket of JO's. After last year's bronze medal in the Gold Division, the team will be shooting for the Platinum Division this year."


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