CORONA DEL MAR, CA., Oct. 20. HAVE the Sea Kings lost it?
Coach John Vargas' Corona del Mar squad, double-defending CIF Division II water polo champs and ranked No. 1 among Southern California prep squads, lost its second game in a month yesterday, bowing to Anaheim Servite, 9-6. The Sea Kings had previously lost to La Jolla The Bishop's in the finals of the Newport Harbor Tournament earlier in late September.
Yesterday before a raucous home crowd, the Sea Kings uncharacteristically gave up three goals in the final three minutes to the Friars to incur their second defeat. CDM is now 14-2 with both losses coming to non-league opponents.
Servite's Friars, coached by Jim Sprague, are ranked No. 2 in the region and are now 18-2.
Corona del Mar rallied from a three-goal deficit with 4:16 remaining before the Friars regained the lead via goals from Trevor Clark, Vince Bevins and Pat Buckner — all in their final three possessions.
"We slapped the giant across the face and now the giant is awake," Sprague told the Los Angeles Times.
Servite's coach still believes his team should be ranked No. 2 to the Sea Kings. "We didn't play that much better than [Corona del Mar], they were simplier a little unluckier. They only got two goals out of the two-meter spot and they probably should have got nine or 10. We'll probably have a heart attack when we see on the film how many times they came close to scoring."
Sprague credited the two-meter defense of John Doyle and the play of goalkeeper Matt Garcia, who came up with 14 saves.
Vargas, who is in his swansong season at the Sea Kings' helm before taking over the Stanford men's program next year for retiring Dante Dettamanti, is
still favored to make it three-straight titles next month at the CIF Championships in a game to be played at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool — conceivably against Servite.
Vargas has a distinguished curriculum vitae both as a player and as a coach. In college he was a two-time All-America and helped lead U Cal Irvine's Anteaters to the 1982 NCAA Championship along with a perfect season. Then going into the coaching ranks, he led Corona del Mar to four Southern Section CIF titles and six finals appearances between 1984-89 while trying
also to make the U.S. Olympic Team.
He was the final player cut from the 1988 team but made it to Barcelona as part of the 1992 squad. He teturned "home" to the Sea Kings' helm after the Games and has stayed put ever since — save for a stint as U.S. National Team coach during the preceding Olympic quadrennium.
And his older brother Joe was a member of the U.S. Olymic Team in 1980 and 1984 so polo certainly does run in the family.
– Bill Bell