The competition for the Bay League boys water polo title will once again be a battle, and coaches Jon Reichardt (Mira Costa) and Pat O’Brien (Palos Verdes) know how much winning the league championship means.
“Where you finish in league with the new format is very important,” O’Brien said. “If you aren’t a league champion, you’re playing at someone else’s pool.”
Reichardt also knows the road will be difficult.
“I think PV is better than we are and Redondo is tough, too,” he said. “We have a tough road.”
Last year, Mira Costa and PV split their two league meetings, resulting in a coin flip to determine who would be the designated league champion and who would travel in the first round.
Mira Costa won the flip. PV had to play at eventual CIF Southern Section Division 2 champion Foothill. Foothill defeated Mira Costa in the championshipg game.
PV returns most of its starting lineup from last year’s 22-win season, including league co-MVP Aidan Wattson, as well as Anthony D’Ambra and Henry Boyle.
“We have high expectations for this year,” O’Brien said. “We have a lot of talent, and it’s going to be about how well the kids can come together.”
PV began the season with a Monday with a 12-7 win over Los Alamitos. O’Brien has ramped up the nonleague schedule this year, hoping it can be a test that pays off in league and the playoffs.
“There’s no real easy spots in our schedule and it’s what these guys need,” O’Brien said. “I think the guys are ready.”
While PV lost one starter from its 2018 squad, Igor Uskokovic, Mira Costa returns one starter, Ryder Theodore.
That doesn’t mean Reichardt is lowering his level of expectations on the program.
“I expect the boys to be as competitive as possible and to get everyone as much playing time as possible,” Reichardt said. “We’re working extra hard to get people on the same page, and I think it will take an extreme team effort to get on the right track.”
Mira Costa opens its season Aug. 30 hosting Murrietta Valley. Reichardt is banking on the practice time to bring the team together in preparation for the nonleague schedule. Mira Costa hosts PV Sept. 25 in the first of two league clashes this season.
“We want the kids to take everything they’ve learned at practice and apply it to the games,” Reichardt said. “If they do that and limit their mistakes, we’ll be better off toward the end of the season.”
Redondo is on its third coach in three years with Bryan Weaver coming over from Peninsula. Jeff Kaye replaces Weaver at Peninsula.
“The team knows they’re good, but the question is how good?,” Weaver said. “I’m still learning their capabilities, but I have been very impressed and feel confident we’re going to have a great season.”
El Segundo features a new coach not only to its program, but the area as well. Replacing Dave Williamson is Tyler Ormsby, who spent the last five years coaching water polo in San Diego.
“I expect the boys to work hard together, hold each other accountable and reach their fullest potential.”
In the Pioneer League, West is the defending champion and advanced to the playoffs last season.
San Pedro was the 13th seed in the CIF L.A. City Section Division I playoffs last season.