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Cabrillo boys’ water polo is the only Long Beach team feeling hard done-by after the release of the CIF Southern Section playoff brackets today.
The Jaguars (9-5) celebrated this week when they were moved up to No. 2 in the Division 6 poll, the highest ranking in program history, but that didn’t translate into a favorable draw. Not only did Cabrillo miss out on getting a bye through the first round like eight other teams got in the bracket, they’re also on the tougher side.
“I think we should have been the king of the lower bracket but instead they put us (on the same side as) Crean Lutheran and Westminster and we’re the three top teams who beat everybody,” Cabrillo coach Lawrence Durand said.
Instead of preparing for the second round, Cabrillo will hit the road on Tuesday to play West Covina. The winner will play Arroyo Valley in the second round on Thursday, and the quarterfinals will be on Saturday.
West Covina (14-14) finished fourth in the Valle Vista League.
Cabrillo made program history by reaching a CIF semifinal in 2018, and Duran said he’s used that experience to better prepare this team for the postseason.
“We’re a different team and the dynamics are different but there’s lessons to learn,” Durand said. “You have to be consistent and keep your head in the game. You can’t get nervous and have that performance anxiety. So we’ve been doing all sorts of drills to work on that and tighten up the ship. To win championships you have to be a good defensive team and our defense has been getting better all year.”
Cabrillo goalkeeper Rodney Reese is one of the best in the division with two shutouts this year already. On the other end, Jaguars stars Gabriel Castaneda, Tlaloc Morales and Mateo Jimenez have been deadly on the counter attacks and unique drive patterns that Duran has taught them because they’re such strong swimmers.
The Jaguars beat Lakewood this month to finish fourth in the Moore League.