A monumental season

WATERPOLO Three years in the making, both boys and girls waterpolo made it to the CIF.

Sophia Kim, Asst. Sports Editor

For Diamond Bar High School’s water polo program, this school year has been historic as both the boys and girls were a step away from being CIF champions. It only took three years for the program to succeed, with the girls making it to CIF finals and the boys reaching semifinals.

With stricter practice routines and better teamwork, both teams were able to compete more aggressively this season. Head coach Alexander Matal focused on having the teams sharpen their fundamental skills throughout the season.

“Our coach sat us down during the first practice in the summer and told us how intense our practices would be because we were planning to win CIF,” junior Mark Parent said.

The boys water polo team finished 21-12 overall, a huge leap from last year’s record of 14-15 and its first year record of 5-22. Entering CIF as a wild card, the Brahmas won three playoff games against Estancia, Garden Grove and Arcadia until they lost against Roosevelt by just one goal in the semifinals. Winning their playoff games by an average of ten points, the boys showed much improvement from their losing streak in league at the start of the program.

Senior Diego Hammond made 136 goals this season while juniors Aaron Velarde and Cameron Belden made 83 and 51 goals respectively. Also, Hammond was named the Water Polo Player of the Year by the San Gabriel Tribune.

Following the boys’ success, the Lady Brahmas took it a step further and swam all the way to CIF finals. After defeating Claremont, 11-10, the Lady Brahmas competed for the Southern Section CIF title where they lost by two against Santa Ynez High School.

“I’m not saying they’re a bad team, but we definitely could have beat them,” junior captain Phoebe Tsui said. “Even though we lost, it’s just going to motivate us to work harder and get back to playoffs next year.”

With a league record of 4-4 and an overall record of 26-8, the girls placed third in league. They improved by 19 games compared to last season. From placing last in league for two years in a row, the Lady Brahmas showed significant progress.

Juniors Ashley Yoo and Phoebe Tsui led the team in scoring with 125 and 99 goals, respectively.