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CIF-SS boys water polo: Previews of the matchups for Orange County’s teams in the finals

Previews of Saturday’s CIF-SS boys water polo finals at Mt. SAC in Walnut

OPEN DIVISION

Newport Harbor (26-3) vs. JSERRA (26-0), 6 p.m.

Outlook: It’s the two-time defending Open champion Sailors against the top-seeded Lions, who they beat last season in the section final 10-9. JSerra is 2-0 against No. 2 seeded Newport Harbor this fall, including a 10-9 win in sudden-death overtime. The match pits two of the county’s best players: JSerra attacker Ryder Dodd (USC) and Newport Harbor center Peter Castillo (UCLA). Dodd is sizzling after helping the U.S. national team qualify for the 2024 Olympics by capturing the Pan American Games. The senior remarkably led the tournament in goals but he’s more than just a scorer. Dodd leads the Lions’ swift counterattack with his speed and defense. Castillo drew nine exclusions in a 12-11 victory against Harvard-Westlake in the semifinals. He powers the Sailors’ man-advantage that can be a major weapon. Watch out for 6-foot-5 Newport Harbor sophomore Connor Ohl, who ended the semifinals with a buzzer-beater and looks like the next county standout.

DIVISION 1

Laguna Beach (18-12) vs. Huntington Beach (21-10), 4:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Surf League rivals face off for the fifth time. The Oilers own a 3-1 advantage, including a 15-10 overtime win in a league playoff for second place. The top-seeded Oilers are seeking their first section title. The No. 2 Breakers are aiming for a fourth crown but first in Division 1. Huntington Beach features its own dynamic center in Ethan Spoon.

DIVISION 3

CANYON (26-5) vs. EL SEGUNDO (31-0), 1:40 p.m.

Outlook: The North Hills League champion Comanches surfaced as one of the county’s most surprising teams in reaching their first section final. They’re a well-rounded team with excellent chemistry, coach Celena Photopulos said. No. 2 seeded Canyon is led by three-year starters Aidan Demkiw in goalie and Luke Kornely and Drew Herbel. El Segundo is the No. 1 seed.

DIVISION 4

WOODBRIDGE (26-9) vs. BONITA (18-11), 12:20 p.m.

Outlook: The No. 2 seeded Warriors are the last team standing from the challenging Pacific Coast League. They’ve reached their first final with an intriguing blend of three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. In the semifinals, freshman Elijah Bolton scored three goals. Bonita is the No. 1 seed.

DIVISION 6

ANAHEIM (11-5) vs. SUMMIT (23-4), 11 a.m.

Outlook: The Colonists advanced to their first section final in only their fourth season since reviving a long-dormant program. The comeback has been so dramatic, Anaheim’s first-round playoff win was its first postseason triumph since 1976. Sophomore left-handed attacker Micah Flude is one of the Colonists’ top players. Summit is the No. 1 seed.

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