Cabrillo Water Polo

CIF Boys’ Water Polo: Cabrillo Survives Close Battle With Warren

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The Cabrillo Jaguars are proving to be a difficult out every time they make it to the CIF-SS playoffs. The last three times the Jags have made the postseason, they’ve won at least two games, and that is an active streak as of Thursday night.

The Jags were back at home for the second round of the Division 5 boys’ water polo playoffs, and battled to an 8-6 victory over the Warren Bears, earning the program’s second quarterfinal appearance in the last three seasons. Cabrillo never led by more than two goals in a well-played, back-and-forth playoff game.

“I’m so proud of the guys,” said Cabrillo head coach Laurence Durand, who got to celebrate his birthday with a win. “They got a little flustered, because Warren brought it. Congratulations to them, their kids and their coach are a class act … And the game was exciting. The guys went off script a little bit, but they got it back when they needed to and played solid D; they listened to coach and pulled out a win.”

With the game tied 6-6 in the final minutes, a Warren exclusion helped open the door for the Jags, and captain Emilio Jimenez rose to the occasion. He lined up a shot from the point and carved right through the outstretched arms of the Warren defenders to score the go-ahead goal with only 2:17 left in the game.

“I saw their hands straight up, raising their hands in class, instead of this bent (arm) which allows for quicker motion,” explained Jimenez. “So I just did my routine fake, and I saw their hands waving and I just ripped that shot in the corner and called it a night right there.”

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After Cabrillo’s go-ahead goal, Warren never got another shot toward the goal. The Jags’ defense snagged five of their 10 steals during the fourth period, getting three takeaways from Mosheh Villegas-Resendiz. Goalie Humberto Salazar made nine saves, but didn’t need to make one in the final quarter.

The Jags would put the game away with just 16 seconds left as a shot from Sam Hernandez squirted through the hands of the Warren goalie and into the cage, setting off a loud celebration from the boisterous home crowd.

In a true team effort, the Jags got goals from six different players, led by two from Jimenez and two from Aharon Villegas-Resendiz. Both of his goals came in the second quarter, one directly off a steal that led to a breakaway, and the other on a counterattack started by a nice outlet pass from Salazar in the cage.

Jacob Jacinto, Mosheh Villegas-Resendiz, and Kristopher Mendoza were the other goal scorers for the Jags.

Warren was led by a hat trick from Sean Lopez, a pair of goals by Owen Padilla, and a tally by Matthew Casalegno.

The Bears outshot the Jags 26-22, but Cabrillo made sure to lock down defensively in crunch time. Though the Jags were never able to pull away, they also never fell behind and relied on their home fans to help them across the finish line.

“The emotion is unreal, especially because it’s at home,” Jimenez said. “And going forward, I think we’ll really be able to pull it off because this season is just pure history being made. The best record we’ve had in years, since 2018. And in 2018, we were semi-finalists, but this year, we’re hoping to make it all the way to championships.”

The Jags are now two wins away from reaching the CIF-SS Championships and will look to get one step closer this Saturday. Cabrillo will remain at home, facing the Segerstrom Jaguars who just knocked off No. 3 seed Whittier, 10-9. A start time is yet to be determined.

VIDEO: Cabrillo vs. Warren, CIF Boys’ Water Polo
PHOTOS: Cabrillo vs. Warren, CIF Boys’ Water Polo
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.