June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Woodbridge takes charge early and defeats San Dimas to earn first trip to CIF finals

Yuval Fang of Woodbridge is defended by Ethan Estephian of San Dimas Wednesday. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Woodbridge High School’s boys water polo team took control early in Wednesday’s CIF Division 4 semifinal match and rolled to an 11-7 victory over San Dimas in front of a big turnout of Warrior supporters Wednesday evening in the Woodbridge pool.

The No. 2-seeded Warriors (26-9) advance to the CIF finals for the first time in school history to face top-seeded Bonita (18-11) Saturday at 12:20 p.m. at Mt. San Antonio College.

The Warriors scored the first three goals of the match, one each by Eli Bolton, Robin Koehler and John Willson to set the tone. It was the first time since 2017 Woodbridge has been in the semifinal round.

“It was nice to come out and play fast paced hard water polo and have a confident lead as opposed to our Saturday with a rocky stumble in the beginning,” said Woodbridge Coach Alex Farraro. “It was a good start.”

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Woodbridge was led by Bolton, a freshman, who had three goals. Koehler added two goals for the Warriors.

“Eli is a freshman and we’re really excited, he’s our center’s (Caden Bolton) younger brother,” Farraro said. “And he had a great, great freshman season and has been doing well for us. Robin is a fantastic athlete and he sets the tone of the game, he forces everyone on the other team to go up and down on a quick pace, enabling everyone else to open up.”

Six other Warriors had a goal each. Goalkeeper Ben Chan was also solid with 12 blocks and a penalty save.

“Ben Chan is an incredible quarterback,” Farraro said. “He can put the ball anywhere in the pool, he made some huge stops, stopping a penalty in the first half, giving us a ton of momentum going into the second half.”

Woodbridge led 7-3 at halftime and 8-5 going into the final stanza. The Warriors never trailed.

“We have our amazing goalie Ben Chan, he saved us on so many counter attacks,” said Bolton. “Then we were able to complete on most of our plays on offense, which obviously helped a lot. I think the last time we got to CIF finals was eight years ago, so this is a huge accomplishment, especially for some of the freshman on varsity to have this as their first year, it’s looking bright for the next couple of years.

“We have really good team chemistry, we always have team lunches and team dinners and we just work well together.”

Woodbridge fans formed a victory tunnel after the game for the Warriors to run through at one end of the pool deck. The small bleacher sections were filled with fans.

Diego Zazueta scored seven goals to lead San Dimas.

Bonita defeated Temecula Valley 13-9 in the other semifinal.

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—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com