The Cabrillo boys’ water polo program made school history by reaching the CIF Southern Section Division 7 semifinals, and Cory Thompson and Angel Ortiz added to the legend of this season by becoming the first players to earn All-CIF awards. FULL ALL-CIF LIST
“Cory and Angel, along with co-captain Noe Villilon who made second team, were the anchors of this squad,” Cabrillo coach Lawrence Durand said. “They’re excellent athletes and we have a strong bond. I’m Elated for their successes, and sad they must go.”
READ MORE about how the Jaguars went deep in the playoffs despite building the program with athletes who didn’t plan on playing in the pool.
“Every year, most people here don’t know how to swim,” senior captain Cory Thompson said. “We train them throughout the summer and work at a higher level to get everyone up to speed. They have to learn how to egg beat and everything. It’s a really good experience, and I really wish more people would come and try out.”
Boys’ soccer is the most popular and successful at Cabrillo, and Thompson’s co-captain Noe Villalon said he needed to explain what water polo was to his freshman classmates.
“Now more people are hearing what we’re doing over the intercom on campus and stuff,” Villalon said. “People come up and ask me how stuff is going now, and that’s pretty cool.”
Thompson and Villalon, who were both born and raised on the westside of Long Beach, started water polo after years of playing other youth sports. Thompson said he was a rambunctious child, and his mom forced him to play at first. Villalon was connived to play by a friend in the middle of the first season.
“I learned about the game by watching Tony Azevedo in the 2012 Olympics,” Villalon said. “And then he actually taught us here. That was really cool.”
Senior Angel Ortiz has been another unexpected star. The 2-meter scorer came to Cabrillo as a sophomore after his older brother, assistant coach Chris Ortiz, convinced him to become a Jaguar.
“This was my first real team sport,” Angel said. “I thought it was really weird at first, and had problems with my teammates because I didn’t know how to work with a group of people. It got me really frustrated because I felt constrained with someone on me all of the time. It took awhile, but the coaches and my teammates helped me become more confident in the water.”