SARATOGA - Xavier Casabella has committed to continue his playing and academic career at NCAA D1 powerhouse Cal, Viking Aquatics Director Willo Rodriguez recently announced. Casabella was one of the top goalkeepers in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) in 2019, earning All-America, All-NorCal and All-Coast Conference first-team honors. With the 2020 season wiped out, the West Valley men's water polo team didn't return to competition until March 20, 2021 for an abbreviated, unofficial 10-game schedule. Academically, Casabella earned the 2021 Fang Pei Promise Fund and Scholar Partner WVC scholarships.
Casabella's departure gives Rodriguez the task of replacing his preeminent netminder, a challenge he'll gladly take on. "Xavi was, without a doubt, the best goalie in the CCCAA," Rodriguez said. "His hard work and determination have paid off. I look forward to his future accomplishments competing for one of, if not the, best programs in the country."
In 2019, the Mataro, Spain native had 139 saves, a 54.9 save % and 149 blocks in 41 quarters in the crease. An excellent field player as well, Casabella recorded 14 goals, six assists and 19 steals in 2019.
The undisputed leader and heart-and-soul of the Vikings, Casabella values his time at WVC. "West Valley has been huge for me, something I will always remember and be proud of," he said last week from Spain. "I am incredibly lucky to have such supportive people and family around me. Without them, my dream would not have come true. Special thanks to coaches Willo, Erika (Vargas) and Enrico (De Munno) for showing what being a Viking is all about."
Heading north to Berkeley is a dream come true for Casabella. "Becoming a Golden Bear is beautiful and an amazing opportunity to continue my academic career and personal growth. I honestly can't wait to give everything I have in the pool for Cal and fight for what I've always wanted."
Cal, a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), is a perennial power with an NCCAA record 14 national championships. Golden Bear coach Kirk Everist is 391-123 in 19 years at the helm and guided Cal to national titles in 2006, 2007 and, most recently, 2016, when the Bears took an epic 11-8 OT win over USC in the championship.
(Matt Folsom, West Valley Athletics)
(All photos by Matt Folsom, West Valley Athletics)