2018 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics Day Eight: The Vanguard Age

Laguna Beach 14U girls celebrating 2018 Junior Olympics win. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The 2018 USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics concluded Sunday afternoon with SOCAL Water Polo Club beating 680 Drivers 8-5 in the girls 18 U Platinum bracket at Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center. Completing what was a great tournament for one of California’s premier clubs, SOCAL also end up with platinum and gold titles in 16U Boys as well as a handful of third place finishes on the girls side.


But, age group water polo in California is still in the midst of the Vanguard Age. Since its founding in 2013 by Sasa Branisavljevic and Uros Dzelebdzic, the upstart club from Huntington Beach has captured an astounding 11 platinum titles, including wins this year in 10U Coed and 12U and 14U Boys. While out in San Jose for JOs, Swimming World spoke with Vanguard co-founder Branisavljevic about his club’s mercurial rise. 


Vanguard wins! When have we seen this before? Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Other big winners on Sunday include SET, which captured the 16U Girls Platinum title with a 7-6 win over Santa Barbara 805, and Pacific Coast Riptide, which beat Laguna Beach 9-4 for the 14U Platinum title. Laguna Beach entered the winners column with a 9-7 win over Commerce in the 12U Platinum title. Shore Aquatics beat Vanguard 5-0 in the 10U Girls final, and Vanguard triumphed 6-0 over Trojan for the 10U Coed Platinum crown.

In a highly competitive 14U Classic final, the Navy girls fell just short, dropping an 8-7 decision to Dallas Thunder.

Swimming World spoke with former USA Water Polo CFO Marty Samuels about what makes for a great age group tournament. A veteran of 18 years of JOs, who—with his son Josh is now a coach for Vanguard U18 boys after years of competing at JOs as a player—has perhaps come full circle, Samuels has not lost his sense of awe about the world’s largest youth polo event.

“We’re here to have fun—even the losers have a good time,” he said on Day Four.

“It boggles my mind because I’ve been coming to this event for years. It didn’t look like this 18 years ago,” Samuels added. “It’s not about one team or one match; it’s about the kids having an amazing end to their summer club seasons at the best and biggest age group championship in the world.”

No truer words could be said in closing the book on 2018.

Following are all the results for Day Eight of the 2018 JOs; please click this link for complete results from every bracket and match played over eight days of play.


Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

10U Coed
Vanguard – MVP – Kai Kaneko
Newport Beach

Championship (Platinum)

10U Girls
Shore Aquatics – MVP – Katherine O’Dea
Diablo Alliance

12U Girls
Laguna Beach – MVP – Emerson Hensley

14U Girls
Pacific Coast Riptide – MVP – Zoe Seaboch
Laguna Beach

16U Girls
SET – MVP – Zoe Seaboch
Santa Barbara 805
Rose Bowl

18U Girls
SOCAL  – Co-MVPs – Val Ayala and Bella Baia
680 Drivers


Unbridled joy! Ohana Water Polo 14Us. Photo Courtesy: Madison Carroll

Championship (Gold)

10U Coed
American River
San Diego Shores

12U Girls
680 Drivers
Chicago Park District

14U Girls
Thunder Black
Santa Cruz

16U Girls
Santa Barbara 608
Puget Sound
Viper Pigeons

18U Girls
Huntington Beach
Rose Bowl
West Valley


Vanguard everywhere! Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Classic (Silver)

14U Girls
Shore Aquatics

16U Girls
Palos Verdes
Santa Barbara Premier

18U Girls
South Coast


Photo Courtesy: Jeff Kuecker

Classic (Bronze)

14U Girls
Arroyo Grande
Chelsea Piers

16U Classic
Cal Republic

18 U Classic
Chelsea Piers

Editor’s Note: Swimming World is on the ground all week with stories and quotes from the 2018 USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics. Look for our coverage of the largest youth water polo tournament in the world. If you want to tune into all the action at Stanford’s Avery Aquatics Center, check out FloSwimming’s link to the tournament; for pictures from various JO sites, visit this link for KLC photos.