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Cabrillo Water Polo

CIF Boys’ Water Polo: Cabrillo Wins Playoff Opener At Home

The562’s coverage of aquatic sports in Long Beach is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.

The562’s coverage of Cabrillo Athletics is sponsored by the Cohn Family.

Teams with championship aspirations want to improve in every game and peak in the postseason.

Cabrillo boys’ water polo looks like it’s succeeding in that goal. The Jaguars lost to Milken Community in the first game of this season, but showed how much they’ve improved by beating Milken 13-7 at home on Tuesday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.

“These guys played the best game of their season, and when you split (two games) with a good team you want to win the second one” Cabrillo coach Lawrence Durand said. “Everything is a championship game from here on and you have to bring your defense.”

Cabrillo did exactly that and held the visitors to just one goal in the first half while building a lead through Aharon Villegas-Resendiz and Emilio Jimenez. Villegas-Resendiz scored a game-high six goals, and goalkeeper Humberto Salazar finished with seven saves.

“I feel like everyone was on top of their game today,” Villegas-Resendiz said. “We were looking for each other. In the first half we were just looking into the set and at the goal, so I feel like being more aware of our surroundings helped us get more open.”

This is the first playoff win for Cabrillo since they reached a quarterfinal in 2021.

“It’s all teamwork and awareness,” Jimenez said. “We have to work as a team and that (game) was a perfect example.”

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Cabrillo got the first goal and never trailed after Jimenez scored off a quick restart assist from Mosheh Villegas-Resendiz. At the other end, the Jaguars played solid defense and forced Milken to miss a handful of shots off the posts and crossbar. Cabrillo led 1-0 after the first quarter.

Aharon Villegas-Resendiz and Jimenez came alive in the second quarter because of more balanced team play. Villegas-Resendiz scored three times before halftime and Jimenez netted a pair of 5-meter penalty shots. The Jaguars led 6-1 at the break.

“He’s slowed down his game and it’s gotten so much better,” Durand said of Aharon Villegas-Resendiz. “Now he’s patient and works the goalie. That’s why he leads our team in assists.”

Milken’s Meyer Chemerinski and Talen Mehrian got the visitors back in the game with some better transition play in the third quarter. Chemerinski scored four goals and Mehrian chipped in a hat trick. However, Cabrillo was able to limit their chances by dumping the ball early and often in the game because they didn’t want Chemerinski and Mehrian driving in transition.

“We wanted to play conservatively,” Durand said. “Their half court transition is dangerous. We knew we were going to have to double team them in the half court, but we couldn’t double them while driving or we would’ve picked up fouls… It took them out of their game.”

Cabrillo led by as many as five goals in the fourth quarter and held off a late Milken charge to win it 13-7.

The Jaguars will host Warren on Thursday in the second round.

“We need to keep working together, play strong and play until the wheels fall off,” Aharon Villegas-Resendiz said. 

“We’re a family, we’re brothers, and working as a team (like in this game) can bring us all the way to the championship,” Jimenez added.

VIDEO: Cabrillo vs. Milken, CIF Boys’ Water Polo
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.