Stanford Alum Leads Northwest to Gold at Junior Olympics
Northwest Water Polo Club recently competed in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics held in Irvine, CA. The club sent a total of 8 teams, representing 7 different age groups, to compete against some of the nation's finest water polo teams. Northwest's performance was nothing short of impressive, with each team delivering solid performances. Notably, the 18u Boy's team emerged triumphant under the leadership of Stanford Alum, Marco Stanchi, clinching the 1st place position in the Gold Bracket and bringing home a well-deserved gold medal and trophy for Northwest Water Polo Club.
This victory held special significance, as it marked the highest placement achieved by a Pacific Northwest Zone team at the tournament. The achievement also secured a competitive seed for the zone in next year's Junior Olympics.
18u Boys: A Journey to Gold:
The journey for the 18u Boys began with a challenging match against San Diego Shores, a team that ultimately secured the 4th place ranking in the country. Although the boys displayed competitive spirit in the first half, they faced a setback in the latter two quarters, resulting in a 14-5 loss. In the subsequent game, Northwest faced a formidable opponent from Vegas, managing to secure an 11-10 victory in a close match. The team's determination was put to the test against Trojan Cardinal, leading to a 16-8 loss and a place in the Gold bracket.
Facing a tough group bracket, Northwest matched-up against Central Valley teams Royal 559 and Kings Elite. In a tightly contested bracket where each team ended up with one win and one loss, Northwest took a third seed on a tight goal differential. Undeterred by the challenges, Northwest stormed through the Gold bracket's "back-door" pool, securing victories against Pegasus (15-12), Praetorian (10-5), and Utah (12-7). The team's resilience shone through in a rematch against Kings Elite, marked by intense exchanges and a late-game surge that led to an impressive 11-9 victory. In the semi-finals, Northwest dominated San Jose Express with a resounding 15-11 victory. The Gold Bracket finals saw a rematch against Royal, with Northwest establishing an early lead and never looking back in a 12-9 win, solidifying their championship status. Congratulations to the 18u boys and their coach, Marco Stanchi, for their exceptional representation of Northwest Water Polo Club and the Pacific Northwest Zone.
16u Boys: Rising to Challenges:
A young Northwest 16u Boys embarked on their tournament journey with a defeat against the third-ranked San Diego Shores team. Subsequent matches against YPRO, Kings Elite, and Elmhurst showcased Northwest's fighting spirit, though they narrowly missed victories with scores of 10-13, 6-9, and 8-12 respectively. A turning point arrived on the second-to-last day, as Northwest unleashed dominating performances, securing an 18-5 win against Raiders and a commanding 20-6 victory against NIPC. The team carried this momentum forward against West Suburban, rallying from a rocky start to clinch an 11-9 triumph. Congratulations to the 16u team for their resilience and determination.
14u Boys Yellow and Black: Hungry for Success:
The determined 14u Yellow team entered the tournament ready to play. The tournament opener against Del Mar showcased a back-and-forth battle, resulting in a tie after four quarters. In a nail-biting tie-breaker shoot-out, Del Mar secured a 9.3-9.1 victory. Northwest's next game followed a similar script, culminating in another shootout against San Luis Obispo, eventually losing 6.5-6.4. Northwest rebounded on Day 2 with consecutive wins against Rocky Mountain Neptunes (15-7), Viper Pigeons (17-9), and West Valley (13-5). Their winning streak came to an end on day 3 with losses against a formidable Visalia United team (7-12) and a challenging OCWP team (9-12). Undeterred, Northwest 14 Yellows concluded their Junior Olympics run on a high note, edging out Big Valley with a hard-fought 12-10 victory.
Meanwhile, Northwest's second 14u team, Northwest Black, embarked on their JO's journey, gaining valuable water polo knowledge and experience. Competing against teams like CT Premier, Visalia, American River, and Team Vegas, Northwest Black showcased their resilience and determination. Notably, their match against Team Vegas stood out as a closely contested battle, with Northwest trading goals until Team Vegas pulled ahead in the fourth quarter, securing a 7-5 victory. Congratulations to both 14u teams for their dedication and performance.
12u Boys: Enthusiasm and Liveliness:
The Northwest 12u boys exuded enthusiasm and liveliness throughout their challenging run in the Championship bracket at JO's. Mirroring the trajectory of the 16u boys, the 12u team faced tough competition in their initial days against experienced opponents such as OCWP, American River, La Jolla, and Royal 559. Despite coming up just short in these games, Northwest's persistence paid off on the third day as they showcased commanding performances against Oahu (19-10) and local rivals Narrows (20-9). The team's last tournament game saw them put up a spirited fight against a seasoned Greenwich team, ultimately ending in defeat. Congratulations to the 12u team for their spirited efforts and growth.
16u Girls: Demonstrating Excellence:
The Northwest 16u Girls commenced their tournament journey with an energetic encounter against Cal Republic. The low-scoring affair ended in a 6-6 tie, leading to a penalty shootout that saw Northwest narrowly losing 6.2-6.4. Subsequent matches against CTP AG and Alameda resulted in valiant efforts but ended in losses of 5-9 and 7-12 respectively. The team's defensive prowess came to the forefront in the following two games, where they held their opponents to a total of 6 goals and secured victories of 9-2 against Del Mar and 8-4 against Lamorinda. The winning streak was halted by a spirited American River team, resulting in a hard-fought 2-6 loss. Northwest's Junior Olympics journey culminated in a decisive victory against Olympus, with the 16u girls showcasing their excellence in a resounding 9-1 win. Congratulations to the 16u girls for their outstanding performances.
12u Girls: Shining Spirits Lead the Way:
The Northwest 12u Girls embraced the challenge of competing in the Championship bracket at the Junior Olympics, facing off against some of the nation's top teams. Despite initial losses against formidable opponents like San Jose Almaden, Channel Island, Arroyo Grande, and SOCAL, Northwest's determination remained steadfast. On the third and fourth days of the tournament, Northwest's resilience shone through as they secured dominant victories against Brooklyn (15-3) and Del Mar (9-6). The team's final tournament game continued to highlight their defensive prowess, holding Team Vegas to just two goals and securing a 5-2 victory. Congratulations to the 12u Girls for their tenacity and growth.
10u Co-Ed: A Bright Future Ahead:
Northwest's 10u team took on the challenge of competing in the Championship bracket at the Junior Olympics, facing off against some of the country's top teams. For many players, this marked their first experience at the Junior Olympics, with games played under the sunshine on full-sized courses. Despite encountering tough competition from teams like SOCAL, 680, San Diego Shores, Greenwich, and Praetorian, the 10u team's attitude and spirit remained unwavering. The group gained invaluable experience, knowledge, and a deeper understanding of water polo, setting the stage for their continued improvement and growth. The team's determination bodes well for a promising future, and they look forward to returning next year with even greater resolve. Congratulations to the 10u co-ed team for their dedication and enthusiasm.
Northwest Water Polo Club's remarkable performance at the Junior Olympics serves as a testament to the dedication, skill, and teamwork of its athletes. The club's achievements across various age groups underscore its commitment to excellence and the bright future that lies ahead. As these talented athletes continue to hone their skills and forge ahead, their impact on the sport of water polo is sure to be felt on a national stage.