The West Orange High boys and girls water polo teams remain alive in the battle for a state championship title.
“They put in the work for the past year,” head water polo coach Jennifer Dailer said. “They have been in the water together basically since last season with our club team, and they’ve just put in the work they needed to put in for the past year to get through (to the regional championship game).”
The boys currently own a 20-4 overall season record and are ranked second in the state just behind Boca Raton (21-3-1) — the team they are scheduled to play during the Class 1A regional championship game.
“It’s going to be a tough one; my boys did defeat Boca (Raton) in the super tournament, and I know Boca was missing one of its key players that game and that a key player makes a difference in games,” Dailer said.
However, one key element Dailer and his players believe to have honed in this season is depth.
“My boys have a lot of depth … they play really well as a team,” she said. “So, as long as they continue to work together and count on (one another), it’s a winnable game, but it’s going to be a hard match for sure. Boca has an impressive water polo program.”
For junior utility Daniel Raz, 16, depth also has become part of the success he and his teammates have had this season.
“We don’t have one or two start players who do really (well),” he said. “Our entire team and our entire starting six are good players. We have good players on the bench, good depth and a lot of players who can show up and be helpful.”
The boys lost against Boca Raton 16-11 Tuesday, April 11, during the regional championship title.
The West Orange High School girls currently are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A and own a 24-1 regular-season record.
“They have come up together the past few years and have stayed in the water together,” Dailer said. “They are not playing just high school; they are playing year-round, playing club together. It’s been a really powerful thing to see them all connecting this season and staying united and having that camaraderie.”
For junior attacker Surraya Fadloullah, 16, camaraderie has been a key element on the water for the girls this season.
“Our team right now is so close, we are all friends with each other so it’s really easy for us to play together because we have a good bond with each other,” she said. “We can trust each other (in and out of the pool).”
The girls lost to Lake Nona High 5-4 during the regional championship Wednesday, April 12.
Last year, both Warrior water polo teams saw their seasons come to an end during the regional semifinals. Both teams lost against Boone High, the boys 14-13 and the girls 7-3.
Both teams are excited for the opportunity to be able to bring home a regional state championship title for the first time since the sport was sanctioned by the FHSAA.
“It’s an honor to really be a part of this team, having such great success, and to say that I’m part of it and that I’m contributing and helping out with it,” Raz said. “It’s just a really great honor to be a part of this team that has had such success and has a chance to win the regional championship (game).”
When it comes to the girls, pride and excitement reigns between all members of the team.
“I am proud of how far we have made it,” Fadloullah said. “It’s a strong accomplishment — the (number) of teams we have (defeated) to get to where we are today. That’s a big accomplishment for the whole team. … I feel like this year, we really focused on working more as a team instead of working individually. If one person gets better, that’s good. But if the whole team gets better, that’s better.”
Despite good communication on the water, Dailer believes both teams could benefit from more open communication methods during games to help them get even stronger.
“We need to increase communication,” she said. “Although they play together as a team and they look for (one another), they are not necessarily talking as much as I would like on the water. That’s my biggest thing I’m trying to get my team to focus on — the communication with one another.”