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Santa Margarita boys water polo captures Villa Park Classic

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VILLA PARK — Santa Margarita boys water polo coach Brian Weathersby scheduled a tournament that he knew well for his maiden voyage with a team loaded with uncertainty.

He picked the long-running Villa Park Classic, which he remembered from his playing days at El Toro.

“Every championship game is always at Villa Park,” Weathersby recalled with a smile. “It was fun.”

Weathersby was back on the Villa Park pool deck on Saturday, and guided the Eagles to the tournament championship with an 18-12 victory against La Serna.

Santa Margarita, ranked fifth in Orange County, went 5-0 in the three-day, 30-team event to push its record to 11-4.

For a team that narrowly made the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs last season and return only one all-league player in Keegan McGann, it was another significant step in improving.

“We were .500 last year (in the regular season),” said Weathersby, who took the coaching reins from Justin Johnson, now at Concordia. “I didn’t know how the team was going to be so I made a gradual schedule where we can build our way toward above .500 … and take that stress off our shoulders.”

Sophomore sharp-shooter attacker Evan Wu scored five goals against La Serna while freshman center Logan McGann added four.

The Eagles rotated several players but consistently attacked at center. McGann scored three of his goals from 2 meters while senior Max Ellis and junior Dean Luke each netted two.

Senior defender Christian Brossa (four steals, two goals) and junior goalie Aidan Stone (four saves) help anchor the defense against La Serna (6-7), the reigning Division 2 champion.

Santa Margarita’s performance came on the heels of a 12th-place finish at the rugged South Coast Tournament.

The Eagles beat Trinity League rival Orange Lutheran, narrowly fell to No. 4 seed Oaks Christian in the second round and upset Huntington Beach to reach the ninth-place semifinals.

They’ve accomplished it all without goalie Jack Farnell (JSerra), Gehrig Mackay (JSerra) and Garrett Misajon (Laguna Hills), three sitout transfers who become eligible Monday.

“When we’re playing well, I think we’re pretty good,” Weathersby said.

Weathersby, who has led the Santa Margarita girls to three CIF-SS titles, is hungry to win but also focused on instilling his players with the character traits that he learned at El Toro from legendary coach Don Stoll.

“Working hard, being good teammates, being conscious of your surroundings, being a well-rounded player with school,” Weathersby said of the lessons. “I didn’t understand when I was in high school … but looking back, it molds you into a better person.”

Center Evan Borunda scored five goals to lead La Serna.

In the third-place match, San Marcos defeated El Dorado 12-10. Aliso Niguel edged Servite 16-15 for seventh place.

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