Girls Water Polo Playoffs Begin in Three Divisions

Vista High School heads the list of top seeds as the CIF San Diego Section girls water polo championships open Wednesday in a new format featuring three divisions.

The Panthers (24-4), who won more games than any other team in the county this season, seek a fourth consecutive Division I title under head coach Dave Spence. All three previous titles were captured over Carlsbad, the second seed.

The Lancers hope the fourth time will be the charm. The Avocado League champions are aiming for a fifth consecutive trip to the Division I final. Their streak started with a setback to Poway in the 2007 finale.

Torrey Pines (No. 3) and Poway (No. 4) are the other top seeds in Division I. The four top seeds receive byes into Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The bracket’s other teams start play on Thursday. First-round action in Division II and Division III commences Wednesday.

Valhalla, a power on the boys side, received its first top seed in girls polo since 1999 in Division II, a new bracket for medium-sized schools. The small-school bracket, now known as Division III, finds three-time section runner-up The Bishop’s School gaining the top berth over No. 2 La Jolla.

Valhalla and second-seed Mt. Carmel are expected to race through the Division II pairings, easily the weakest of the three postseason fields.

Meanwhile, The Bishop’s, which has never failed to advance to the Division II title game over 13 consecutive seasons since the inception of the divisional format in 1998, is the favorite to claim the Division III crown.

For the first time in seven years, the Knights (23-4) will need to defeat long-time nemesis Coronado prior to the final. The Islanders, the three-time defending titleists, experienced their poorest season in nearly a decade. That was because Coronado scheduled some very tough opponents, and despite the record, it earned the fourth seed behind No. 3 Cathedral Catholic.

Dates and sites for all CIFSDS playoff contests may be found here:      

CIF-San Diego Section Championships
Thursday, Feb. 17
(1) Vista (24-4), bye
San Pasqual (9-6) vs. Rancho Buena Vista (10-8), at The Wave, 4:30
Eastlake (12-8) vs. Patrick Henry (record not listed), at Allied Gardens Rec, 4
(4) Poway (16-12), bye
(3) Torrey Pines (25-5), bye
Escondido (13-8) vs. Granite Hills (record not listed), at Montgomery Middle School, 6
Grossmont (17-12) vs. Fallbrook (18-8), at Rancho Bernardo, 5:15
(2) Carlsbad (17-7), bye
Quarterfinals: Sat., Feb. 19, at La Jolla
Wednesday, Feb. 16
(1) Valhalla (23-6), bye
Hilltop (13-7) vs. Oceanside (7-15), at The Wave, 5:45
Bonita Vista (3-11) vs. West Hills (11-17), at Santana, 6:15
(4) Point Loma, bye
(3) Scripps Ranch (12-13), bye
Serra (6-20) vs. Ramona (13-16), at Westview, 4:30
Helix (11-17) at Westview (9-19), 3
(2) Mt. Carmel (15-13), bye
Quarterfinals: Friday, Feb. 18, at La Jolla
Wednesday, Feb. 16
(1) The Bishop’s (23-4), bye
La Jolla Country Day (11-8) at Santana (19-9), 5
Mar Vista (17-9) vs. Mission Bay (22-4), at Allied Gardens Rec, 4
(4) Coronado (7-20), bye
(3) Cathedral Catholic (15-12), bye
Santa Fe Christian (9-14) vs. Valley Center (18-9), at Westview, 4
El Capitan (18-9) vs. University City (15-8), at La Jolla Jewish Community Center, 6
(2) La Jolla (19-7), bye
Quarterfinals: Saturday, Feb. 19, at La Jolla