Top Seeds Take Home Southern Regional Championship Titles
The two mainstays in the Southern region proved to live up to the hype this past weekend at the 3C2A Men's and Women's Water Polo Southern Regional Championships hosted by Citrus College. The Golden West College Rustlers took home the gold on the men's side, while the Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros were crowned champions on the women's side.
Men's State Championship Qualifiers
South's #1: Golden West College Rustlers (28-3), OEC
The Rustlers will earn the top-seed after defending yet another Southern California Regional Championship. They will look to earn their seventh-consecutive 3C2A State Championships and ninth in the last 10 years. They crusied through competition by defeating Palomar, Cerritos and Long Beach City.
South's #2: Long Beach City College (15-16), SCC
Despite their sub .500 record, the Vikings had one of the most difficult schedules as they faced off against ranked opponents 17 times this season. Their SoCal Championship berth featured upset wins over second-seeded Saddleback, 12-8, and sixth-seeded Cuesta, 17-14.
South's #3: Cuesta College Cougars (21-12), WSC
The Cougars benefit from the new format as they reach the 3C2A State Championships with the additions of four more teams; two coming in the south. Despite being upset by seventh-seeded Long Beach in the semifinals, they were able to push past the pesky Cerritos College Falcons, 18-15, in the third place game.
South's #4: Cerritos College Falcons (22-11), SCC
It would be wise not to sleep on the Falcons after a strong showing in the SoCal Regionals. Despite losing to Cuesta in the third-place game, the Falcons had one of the strongest games to date against the top-seeded Rustlers in the semifinals. They lost by a mere goal, which is only the second time the Rustlers won by a one-goal margin.
Men's Championship Recap: Golden West defeats Long Beach City, 15-10
After earning the number one seed following the program's 34th Orange Empire Conference (OEC) title, the men embarked on another impressive SoCal run. The Rustlers began the tournament by facing off against eighth-seeded Palomar and made quick work of them by the final score of 19-7.
The following contest proved to be the most challenging of the tournament as the Rustlers went head-to-head with the fifth-seeded Cerritos College Falcons in the Regional semifinals.
Cerritos upset the fourth-seeded Mt. San Antonio College Mounties in a true back and forth affair. Despite facing a one-score deficit leading into the second half, Cerritos went on to outscore the Mounties, 8-6, in the second half. They scored the final four goals of the fourth quarter to overcome a three-goal deficit.
However, the Rustlers were lurking around the corner and standing in the way of the Falcons punching their ticket to the championship ballad. Cerritos got off to a hot start and held a two-goal lead compliments of a pair of netters from freshman Diego Diaz.
The Rustlers turned on the burners and scored 10 goals in the ensuing two quarters while holding the Falcons to a mere five. Sophomore Italy Roth netted three scores during that span, while freshman Jose Pedro Carvalho chipped in two scores. Despite a shaky fourth quarter, the Rustlers held on for a 13-12 win.
The Vikings, who slid past Cuesta by the final score of 17-14 in the semifinal round, were no match for the Rustlers in the championship showdown.
The Rustler leapt out to a three goal lead before the five minute mark and never surrendered the lead as they cruised coast-to-coast. Long Beach showed signs of life as they pulled within two scores in the third quarter, but the Rustlers went on a 4-0 run at the end of the contest leading to a 15-10 victory.
Freshman Alec Johnson led with five goals, while freshman Vincent Labonte followed with two scores.
Women's State Championship Qualifiers
South's #1: Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros (34-1), WSC
The Vaqueros are the juggernaut in the state, no question. After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Orange Coast in the 2022 SoCal Regional Championship game, they came back a week later and won the 2022 3C2A State Championships. They look to defend their crown once again. They have one two state championships in the last six years and look to be the first repeat winner since Golden West did it in 2012 and 2013.
South's #2: Riverside City College Tigers (26-4), OEC
The Tigers reached the SoCal Championship dance for the second time in the last five years and both times hauled in the runner up trophy. However, in 2019 the Tigers reached the state championship ballad and look to haul in their first state title since 2016.They defeated Citrus and Saddleback in the SoCal tournament and have only lost to Santa Barbara this season in four match ups.
South's #3: Long Beach City College Vikings (21-11), SCC
The Vikings earned the bronze after upsetting third-seeded Saddleback, 12-10, in the third-place game. Furthermore, they clipped fourth-seeded Orange Coast, 9-7, before running into SBCC in the semifinals. They will look to haul in the hardware at the 3C2A Championships for the first time since 2006. Their 2006 championship was part of a four-peat, which was the second longest streak in 3C2A water polo history.
South's #4: Saddleback College Bobcats (21-12), OEC
Saddleback was edged by Long Beach in the third place game, but a strong strength of schedule has put them in a great position to make a run for the gold this upcoming weekend. They will look to haul in the program's first ever state championship after defeating Ventura, 18-8, in the second round of SoCal Regionals.
Women's Championship Recap: Santa Barbara defeats Riverside, 16-10
After an incredible season that saw them not drop a single contest to 3C2A competitors, the Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros entered the Southern California Regional Championships on the hunt to defend their state title.
After receiving the top seed and a first-round bye, the Vaqueros kicked off their tournament against the ninth-seeded San Diego Miramar Jets. They made quick work of the Jets by defeating them, 14-6, and moved on to the semifinal round to take on fifth-seeded Long Beach City College.
The game began in a one-all gridlock as there were limited opportunities early for both sides. However, Santa Barbara took the reins and outscored the Vikings, 10-4, in the following three frames to punch their ticket to the SoCal Regionals.
After losing last year's SoCal Regional Championships, the Vaqueros were out with a vengeance against the second-seeded Riverside City College Tigers. It was a back-and-forth affair early with Santa Barbara scoring the first two netters, compliments of sophomore Claire Daland and freshman Gabrielle Muehring. Riverside's sophomore Jessie Nelson and freshman Mikayla Nielsen closed out the scoring to end the first quarter in a three-all tie.
Despite the close first quarter, Santa Barbara broke free to outscore the Tigers 6-2 in the second period. Freshman Cate Daland took over and netter three goals. From then on, the Tigers could not overcome the deficit leading to a 16-10 SBCC victory.
Release by Nicho DellaValle, 3CWPCA SID