Following the regular water polo season, several West Orange and Southwest Orange areas advanced to postseason play in pursuit of championship hardware. As it stands today, only both West Orange High School teams — boys and girls — remain in the pursuit of a state championship title, as the Dr. Phillips boys and the Olympia girls fell out of the equation after losing to their respective opponents during the regional semifinals.
After an undefeated regular season last year, the Dr. Phillips High School boys varsity water polo team made a statement on the water during the regional quarterfinals game. The Panthers battled Westminster Academy for the first time and earned a 19-8 win Saturday, April 1, to advance to the regional semifinals.
“Out of the 13 players, we had only three (who) were returning, and ours is not really half of a team to start out with, so, we are a little smaller than we’ve ever been before,” head water polo coach Leonardo Ramirez said. “Two seniors, only one junior so most of the team are underclassmen, and we didn’t really know what to expect. It has been an extremely good season. … We thought it was going to be a rebuilding year; now I feel like it was mostly a loading year. I believe we are in the mix, and anything can happen.”
Junior utility Ryan Tannus is leading the stats for the team in every category with 135 goals, 65 assists, 120 steals, 276 shots and 200 points scored. Sophomore goalkeeper Mete Gunduz has accumulated 233 saves this season.
“We are very young, and the youth does come out at different times,” Ramirez said. “But, we have definitely ... exceeded expectations, I believe, and it’s good that those boys will be with us for a few more years.”
The Panthers were not able to defeat Boca Raton during the regional semifinals, ending their 2022-23 season after falling to the Bobcats 23-12.
The Olympia High Schools girls varsity water polo team ended its regular season as the No. 3 seed in Class 1A, District 5, and advanced to the regional semifinals game after defeating Boone High School 4-3 Saturday, April 1, during the regional quarterfinals.
The Lady Titans currently hold a 13-8 season record. Senior utility Annelie McGhee leads the team with 59 goals, 15 assists and 74 points scored this season, while junior attacker Camila Soares leads with 35 steals. Senior Rosa Priest leads with 47 shots, and senior goalkeeper Addison Stump has prevented the ball from entering the net 84 times.
Olympia lost against West Orange 9-6 Tuesday, April 4, during the regional semifinals, which brought their 2022-23 season — and the team's pursuit of becoming regional champion — to an end.
The West Orange High School boys varsity water polo team surprised the Lake Nona Lions after defeating them 20-8 Monday, April 3, during the regional quarterfinals.
Currently ranked No. 6 in the state, the boys are excited to continue to put their abilities to the test and see all the hard work they have put in during the off season — and the spring season — pay off.
“We’ve had a lot of really highly competitive games this season — that’s helped my teams quite a bit,” head water polo coach Jennifer Dailer said.
To achieve success during the games, both — the boys and girls water polo teams at West Orange — work on their conditioning constantly.
“They have to be fit, the athletes, concentrate on leg strength and swimming strength, we hit that in conditioning,” Dailer said. “Ball-handling skills are important for their success, but ultimately, I … try to work with inclusion with my teams. I try to stay positive with them and not allow them to be negative with each other, try to build … unity.”
Leading the team on statistics are junior Daniel Raz with 102 goals, 142 shots and 136 points; senior Jack Caffrey with 44 assists; and junior Devon Hessert with 55 steals and 189 saves.
The Warriors defeated Saint Andrew’s Scots (Boca Raton) 20-14 Tuesday, April 4, during the regional semifinals to advance to the regional championship game. As of right now, the boys are set to travel to Boca Raton at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, to determine who will become a part of the Final Four teams to battle for the state championship title.
The West Orange High School girls varsity water polo team advanced to the regional semifinals after defeating Suncoast 22-5 Monday, April 3, at the regional quarterfinals.
Currently ranked first in the state, the Lady Warriors also have the No. 1 seat in Class 1A, District 5, and currently hold a 24-1 overall season record.
“(I believe) in having positive reinforcement and acceptance in my teams,” Dailer said. “We do a lot of team bonding; we try to contribute back to the community once during the season; we build benches for Matthew’s Hope … so the athletes can see the importance of that team unity to get them to the success.”
Junior Surraya Fadloullah currently leads the team in goals with 69, in shots with 111 and points scored with 98, while junior Ashlyn Thomas leads the team with 30 assists, sophomore Bailey Dunn with 63 steals and senior Mya Salvador with 140 saves.
The Lady Warriors defeated Olympia High School 9-6 Tuesday, April 4, advancing to the regional championship game. The girls are set to host Lake Nona High School at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, to determine what team will become regional champion.