DEL MAR — The Del Mar Water Polo Club’s 14-&-under Boys Blue team, including Hanrui Liu, Stefan Vukojevic, Eamon Bruhn, Maximus Bruhn, Luke Anderson, Aden Shin and Jack Davis; from left, back, Sebastian Guido, Braylen Axline, Jett Taylor, Grayson Taylor, Diego Dantas and Sebastian Nudleman, recently brought home gold during the USA Water Polo/ Kap7 Champions Cup held Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 Illinois.The Del Mar 14-&-under Boys Blue team is undefeated in the season, which began in August 2022.
Twelve boys teams and 12 girls teams from across the country competed in qualifying matches. The Del Mar boys made it through the gauntlet, winning all six of their tournament-style games. In the quarter-final game, Del Mar defeated Stanford Water Polo Club 14-11. In the semi-final round, Del Mar outscored Greenwich Aquatics [Connecticut] 17-6. In the explosive final match-up, Del Mar collided with CC United Water Polo Club [East Bay Area], defeating the powerhouse team with a decisive 16-10 victory. Del Mar maintained a consistent lead throughout the game, with every Del Mar athlete contributing to the victory.
The Del Mar 14-&-under Girls team also competed during the 2022 USA Water Polo/ Kap 7 Champions Cup, and won 4 out of 6 of their match-ups.
The annual sportsmanship awards were announced prior to the medal games. This award recognizes excellent sportsmanship efforts from one member of each participating team. Aden Shin received the Jody Campbell Sportsmanship Award and Maddie Smith received the Maureen O’Toole Sportsmanship Award for Del Mar Water Polo Club. The Del Mar 14-&-under boys team will continue to train throughout the next eight months in preparation for the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics, which will be held in July in Southern California.
To start the boys match, CC United won the sprint to earn the first offensive play of the game, gaining momentum that came to a sudden halt as Del Mar goalie Luke Anderson blocked a lob to the far corner. Eamon Bruhn, with a fast drive, put Del Mar on the scoreboard with a near corner skip shot that found a small opening in CC United’s defenses. As CC United attempted another offensive play, Jett Taylor stole the ball for Del Mar as it was passed into CC United’s powerful center. This led to Braylen Axline scoring after drawing a foul from center position and being awarded a free shot from 5 meters. Luke Anderson saved another outside shot, Jett Taylor made another steal, and Grayson Taylor slammed a shot deep in the net with a sidearm from center position to end the first quarter 3-0, Del Mar with the advantage. Del Mar’s momentum remained consistent through the first three quarters, with the score at the end of the third quarter 13-4.
CCU was able to edge closer, scoring 6 points to Del Mar’s gain of 3 in the fourth quarter, leading to a final score of 16-10 in this clash of titans. Led by Coaches Cyrus Kahangi and Marko Vukojevic, the boys have experienced many opportunities to develop grit and determination. “This group of boys is very special,” said Coach Vukojevic. “They are a combination of two national championship winning teams from last
season. They show why they are champions every day in training and through their competitive
spirit. The team made their coach look good in Chicago. Whatever was told to them at the
quarter breaks, they went on to implement it during gameplay. They saved their best
performances for the final day, when it mattered the most.”
The Del Mar Water Polo Club has received recognition for its training programs and consistently places in the top 10 of the National Junior Olympics.