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Water polo: Preseason notes and rankings

Dating back to 2006, the only teams to win North Coast Section water polo titles have been the Miramonte boys and Monte Vista girls.
That is guaranteed to change this year.
The NCS has expanded its postseason tournament to two divisions for each gender — Division I and Division II.
While the Matador boys and Mustang girls are both ranked as preseason No. 1 teams and remain early favorites to add yet another title to their respective collections, someone new will also get to jump in the pool in celebration at the end of the year.
So the 2010 season begins with different goals and expectations for some teams due to the altered playoff format. Several new programs should be able to get a taste of the postseason, others will get their program’s first playoff win, and somebody other than Miramonte and De La Salle will finally bring home an NCS boys championship.
Many teams have started nonleague competition and the Bay Valley Athletic League even kicked off its league season last Wednesday. Nearly everyone else gets started this week. To see some of the best girls teams in action, head out to the Las Lomas and Campolindo pools on Friday and Saturday for the Acalanes North Coast Invitational. In fact every single one of the ranked girls teams will be in attendance. Many of the top boys teams, including defending champion Miramonte and finalist Acalanes, travel down to San Jose for the John Schmitt Invitational.

Here are the preseason top 10 rankings for East Bay teams. Five-time defending boys champion Miramonte, as always, is the team with the target on its back. The Matadors lost standout goalie Jon Sibley and All-East Bay first team selection John Holland to graduation, but return a solid core, including starters Joey Fabian, Nick Deaver and Charlie Wiser. Monte Vista is still the team to beat on the girls side, despite the graduation of Kelly Mendoza. The Mustangs still have Maggie Steffens, who spent her summer training and competing with the U.S. women’s national team, and a talented supporting cast.

BOYS

1. Miramonte
2. Acalanes
3. Las Lomas
4. San Ramon Valley
5. De La Salle
6. Campolindo
7. Monte Vista
8. Amador Valley
9. Foothill
10. Clayton Valley

GIRLS

1. Monte Vista
2. Campolindo
3. Las Lomas
4. Acalanes
5. Carondelet
6. San Ramon Valley
7. Miramonte
8. College Park
9. Northgate
10. Mission San Jose

League Standings: The BVAL standings will start appearing here next week. Look for other leagues when they start up in late September/early October.

Stephanie Hammon