NCS water polo finals – preview

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will be facing each other in both the boys and girls divisions and both have the potential to be pretty good matchups. Both matches will be held at Miramonte High School with the girls kicking things off at 1:30 p.m. and the boys following at 3 p.m.

No. 1 Acalanes vs. No. 2 Miramonte:
The the all-star starting lineup that won the Matadors a fourth-straight NCS title a year ago is now in college with the exception of goalie Jon Sibley. While Miramonte isn’t blowing out every team it faces like it did last year, this is still a very solid group. In the finals the Matadors will be facing the only North Coast Section team to beat them in the last five years — Acalanes. The Dons won the two teams’ Diablo Foothill Athletic League matchup 10-6 without two starters. Those players are back now, but were also in the game when Miramonte beat Acalanes 5-4 in a tournament final in September. The Dons have a senior-heavy roster, led by standout Nick Hoversten, but guys like Mike Kimble and Jake Kisner have also scored a ton of goals for them. When I asked Miramonte coach James Lathrop about the rematch after the Matadors’ semifinal win over De La Salle today, he mentioned that it’s a fun rivalry — most of the key players on the two teams play together during the club season for the Lamorinda team that Lathrop coaches. This game really is a toss up, but I’ll go with the Dons earning their first-ever NCS title. Prediction: Acalanes 8, Miramonte 7.

No. 1 Monte Vista vs. No. 2 Campolindo:
Back in September, I thought the Cougars were the early favorite to face the Mustangs in the NCS title game. They didn’t graduate a single starter from a team that made the NCS semis last year, have good coaching and proved themselves early against some of the other top teams in the section in nonleague games and the Acalanes Shootout. They’ve only impressed me more since then and showed they have the defense to hang with the Mustangs when they lost 6-4 in the finals of Western States. That said, I think Monte Vista is still the heavy favorite to win. All-Americans Maggie Steffens and Kelly Mendoza create huge matchup problems for any team. While Campo’s defense is possibly the best in the section, it’ll be tough to slow Cal-bound Mendoza in her final game as a Mustang. Prediction: Monte Vista 9, Campolindo 6.

Stephanie Hammon