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Del Mar Water Polo Club 14-&-under Boys Blue team wins National Champions Cup

Del Mar Water Polo Club 14-&-under boys
Del Mar Water Polo Club 14-&-under boys with their trophy following the championship match. Front row: Hanrui Liu, Stefan Vukojevic, Eamon

Bruhn, Maximus Bruhn, Luke Anderson, Aden Shin, Jack Davis; Back Row: Sebastian Guido, Braylen Axline, Jett Taylor, Grayson Taylor, Diego Dantas, Sebastian Nudleman; pictured with Coach Marko Vukojevic.
(Jing Liu
)

The Del Mar Water Polo Club’s 14-&-under Boys Blue team recently brought home gold during the USA Water Polo/Kap7 Champions Cup held Nov. 4-6 at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont, Ill., a suburb outside of Chicago.

Twelve boys teams and 12 girls teams from across the country earned the opportunity through competition in qualifying matches to compete in the Champions Cup, representing the states of California, Connecticut, Texas, Hawaii, and Illinois.

The Del Mar boys made it through the gauntlet, winning all six of their tournament-style games. In the quarter-final game, Del Mar defeated Stanford Water Polo Club 14-11. In the semi-final round, Del Mar outscored Greenwich Aquatics (Connecticut) 17-6. In the explosive final match-up, Del Mar collided with CC United Water Polo Club (East Bay Area), defeating the powerhouse team with a decisive 16-10 victory. Del Mar maintained a consistent lead throughout the game, with every Del Mar athlete contributing to the victory.

Jody Campbell Sportsmanship Award recipient Aden Shin with Coach Marko Vukojevic.
Jody Campbell Sportsmanship Award recipient Aden Shin with Coach Marko Vukojevic.
(John Shin
)

To start the match, CC United won the sprint to earn the first offensive play of the game, gaining momentum that came to a sudden halt as Del Mar goalie Luke Anderson blocked a lob to the far corner. Eamon Bruhn, with a fast drive, put Del Mar on the scoreboard with a near corner skip shot that found a small opening in CC United’s defenses. As CC United attempted another offensive play, Jett Taylor stole the ball for Del Mar as it was passed into CC United’s powerful center. This led to Braylen Axline scoring after drawing a foul from center position and being awarded a free shot from 5 meters. Luke Anderson saved another outside shot, Jett Taylor made another steal, and Grayson Taylor slammed a shot deep in the net with a sidearm from center position to end the first quarter 3-0, Del Mar with the advantage. Del Mar’s momentum remained consistent through the first three quarters, with the score at the end of the third quarter 13-4.

CCU was able to edge closer, scoring 6 points to Del Mar’s gain of 3 in the fourth quarter, leading to a final score of 16-10 in this clash of titans.

The Del Mar 14-&-under Boys Blue team is undefeated in the season, which began in August 2022. Led by Coaches Cyrus Kahangi and Marko Vukojevic, the boys have experienced many opportunities to develop grit and determination.

“This group of boys is very special,” said Vukojevic. “They are a combination of two national championship winning teams from last season. They show why they are champions every day in training and through their competitive spirit. The team made their coach look good in Chicago. Whatever was told to them at the quarter breaks, they went on to implement it during gameplay. They saved their best performances for the final day, when it mattered the most.”

The Del Mar Water Polo Club has received recognition for providing comprehensive whole-athlete training programs for many divisions of competition, and consistently places in the top 10 of the National Junior Olympics.

The Del Mar 14-&-under girls team also competed during the 2022 USA Water Polo/Kap 7 Champions Cup, and won four out of six of their match-ups.

The annual sportsmanship awards were announced prior to the medal games. This award recognizes excellent sportsmanship efforts from one member of each participating team. Aden Shin received the Jody Campbell Sportsmanship Award and Maddie Smith received the Maureen O’Toole Sportsmanship Award for Del Mar Water Polo Club.

The Del Mar 14-&-under boys team will continue to train throughout the next eight months in preparation for the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics, which will be held in July in Southern California.

The Del Mar Water Polo Club was founded in 2008 by Olympian Brett Ormsby to help water polo players throughout San Diego County acquire the necessary skills to be successful throughout their water polo careers and beyond.

The club focuses on fundamentals and skill development, in an environment that encourages teamwork, perseverance, and a commitment to achieving one’s personal best, providing players with the foundation necessary to transition into higher levels of play. Ultimately, the club hopes to instill a love for the game and a healthy appreciation for the hard work it takes to be successful, both as a water polo player and in life. More information can be found at delmarwaterpoloclub.org


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