Despite losing to Golden West, the Monarchs make history as being the first Men’s water polo team in school’s history to reach the state championships.
By Vicente Vitela, Sports Editor
Despite falling to rival Golden West College 11-6 in the SoCal regionals, the Valley College Men’s Water Polo team still managed to accomplish a feat that the program has never seen.
“The goal was to qualify and we did just that, and it’s the first time in school history a team has reached the state championship,” said Head Coach Jim McMillan, after the loss at Cerritos College.
The Monarchs headed into the weekend as the number two ranked team in the state, but had to face another rival before qualifying for state title: The Long Beach City College Vikings, one of the only two teams to beat them in the regular season. The Monarchs exploded at the whistle and jumped out to a commanding 13-1 lead by the end of the first period, with the team showing why they deserved their number two ranking.
“Their work ethic, good sophomore leadership, and buying in,” said McMillan when describing the team’s attributes.
The Vikings, however, would not go away quietly as they held the Monarchs scoreless in the next two periods and making it just a five-point game heading into the last period. Fortunately for Valley College, the Monarchs were able to settle in defensively and hold off a late-game rally by Long Beach to advance to the regional championship game with a 13-10 victory.
“It felt good to beat Long Beach,” said McMillan.
The SoCal Regional Championship game shaped up to be featured the Golden West Rustlers against Valley College was the fifth time this season that the Rustlers and Monarchs would face off against one another, with the Rustlers winning the first four. After the end of the first period, Golden West had scored three goals. However, Valley College was right on their heels by scoring two goals of their own. The second period saw the Monarchs go scoreless while their rivals would splash a two spot on the board, giving them a 5-2 lead heading into the half.
The third period would see Golden West extend their lead to 7-2, but this would not stop the Monarchs as they rallied back to score three goals of their own in the period, decreasing the deficit to just two points going into the last period.
In the end, however, it was Golden West who would get their hands raised, holding on for a 11-6 victory over Valley for a consecutive SoCal Regional Championship.
By finishing second, the Monarchs still advance to the CCCAA state championships, where they face West Valley for a shot at the state championship game. From there, a sixth possible matchup against Golden West could loom but the Monarchs are focused solely on West Valley.
“First beat West Valley, and have no mistakes while staying together,” said McMillan on what needs to happen to win it all.