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The CCCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo State Championship tournament was held at Las Positas College from Friday, Nov. 19 to Saturday, Nov. 20. Stands were full with family and friends in support of those competing, as well as a few cameras by to capture the games for online watching. The top four men’s teams in the state competed over the weekend, beginning with a 10:30 a.m. matchup on Friday between #1 ranked (South) Golden West College (26-2) and #2 ranked (North) Diablo Valley College (17-4). The GWC Rustlers put on an absolute clinic, beating the DVC Vikings 21-5 in order to advance to the finals match.

Later that afternoon, the #1 ranked (North) West Valley College (16-3) faced off against the #2 ranked (South) Saddleback College (28-7) for the final spot in the men’s finals match. In what was one of the closer matches during the tournament, the West Valley Vikings defeated the Saddleback Bobcats 12-9. West Valley would go on to face Golden West in the final on Saturday.

Saturday began with an early morning match for third place between #2 ranked (South) Saddleback and #2 ranked (North) DVC. The Bobcats scored double what DVC was able to in the first quarter, giving them an 8-4 advantage that helped them maintain a lead through most of the game. The high scoring affair resulted in a 21-15 victory for Saddleback and secured third place.

The men’s championship game was held at 12:30 p.m. later that day, as the #1 ranked (South) Golden West went head-to-head with #1 ranked (North) West Valley. The Golden West Rustlers gained a strong lead after putting up six goals in the opening frame, including three from GWC leading scorer Felipe Ferreira. West Valley continued to fight back in the next two periods, but it wasn’t enough as Ferreira would score twice more. Reilly Pfeiffer scored his second goal to help GWC regain a 10-8 lead. The Rustlers struck early in the final period for a 12-8 lead, with goals from Konstantinos Koulouris and Pfeiffer. West Valley’s Gojko Kapovic and Togan Ozbek added two more and gave the Vikings hope, as they trailed 12-10 with 1:30 left, but the Rustlers held them off for its fifth-straight CCCAA state championship. Ferreira finished with a game-high six goals to lead GWC’s scorers. This championship marks the 30th overall in Rustlers history, which is the most championships of any program in any CCCAA sport.

The top four women’s teams in the state competed over the weekend, beginning with a matchup between #1 ranked (South) Santa Barbara Community College (30-6) over #2 ranked (North) San Joaquin Delta College (23-5). The SBCC Vaqueros beat the SJDC Mustangs 8-6, advancing to the championship game. The #1 ranked (North) West Valley College (31-2) faced the defending 2020 champs #2 ranked (South) Fullerton College (28-8) and beat them 14-11 in a high-scoring affair, punching their ticket for Saturday’s game against SBCC.

The Fullerton Hornets and SJDC Mustangs would compete for third place at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Hornets secured third place by outsourcing the Mustangs 13-9 in a tough and entertaining game. The final match of the tournament saw the West Valley Vikings and the Santa Barbara Vaqueros battle it out after a 2 p.m. start time. West Valley gave themselves some early breathing room as they put up three goals in the first five minutes. Santa Barbara only managed to get one goal in the first period, but the Vaqueros outscored the Vikings 2-1 in the second period, cutting the lead to 4-3 by halftime. Both teams would go on to hit many posts, as well as score one goal each in both of the final two periods. Charlize Winter (SBCC) scored the equalizer at the 6:51 mark of the final frame, but the state scoring leader Johanna Scheer (WVC), scored the game winning goal just over a minute later.

The West Valley Vikings secured their first-ever CCCAA Women’s Water Polo State Championship with a final score of 6-5. This is the second time ever that a NorCal team has secured the title since Sierra in 2018. The victory also marks the first time a female coach, Erika Vargas, has ever led a team to the title.

Taylour Sparkman is a writer for The Express. Follow him @T_Sparkman_330

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