A B C D
Newport Bellevue Curtis Rogers
Puyallup Auburn Riverside Roosevelt Auburn Mountainview
Emerald Ridge Wilson Enumclaw Peninsula
Are you ready for some playoff water polo? The seedings are complete, the brackets are set, and the mayhem begins on Thursday. This year, there are 12 teams in the tournament and the format follows somewhat of a traditional water polo tournament with bracket play on Thursday. The objective is simple. If you want to advance to the quarterfinals, you need to finish in the top two of your bracket. Usually that means you have to win at least one game in your bracket, but upsets could create ties within a bracket in which advancement to the next round will be decided by fewest goals allowed. Day two will be the quarterfinals with cross bracket play matching bracket winners with #2 teams from other brackets. Day 3 will be the semis and finals with other games determining finishes through 8th place.
This season has been the best year for parity in a long time and no team in the playoffs is unbeatable. Anything can happen when you combine youth, energy, pressure, and water. In most of the match-ups, an upset based on the seedings is not out of the question, though the Committee thinks the higher seed teams in each bracket should advance to Saturday's quarterfinals. If you are looking for surprises, you might want to take a close look at bracket C which appears to be the toughest bracket of the four. The league officials didn't do Curtis any favors as the top seed in the bracket. Roosevelt is not your typical #6 seed and Enumclaw is not your typical #10. Expect all the games in this bracket to be close. Enumclaw finished the season strong and last year showed that they can pick up their level of play in the playoffs. Roosevelt is a bit of an unknown. Yes, they are ranked #3 in the poll and could very well win the bracket. However, they have very little cross division experience and the playoff atmosphere at Rogers will be new to them.
From the Committee's perspective, the locations for bracket play might favor the South teams. It's not about the travel but the playoff atmosphere. The North teams in the past have played in front of smaller crowds during the season and the frenzied playoff environment of a Rogers or Lakes pool might be a bit of an adjustment. The South teams will need to take advantage while they can because the advantage might swing in favor of the North teams on day 2. KCAC is an all deep venue and a wider course than the South teams typically play in. Trust me, it will be a factor and the South teams that advance will need to be aware of it.
Newport: Can beat you on the inside or perimeter. Somehow finds a way to keep winning.
Bellevue: Keeps getting stronger. Brings offense with a strong defense.
Curtis: Depth in their line-up, balanced attack, defense, and a history of big game experience.
Rogers: Athletic. Strong all around game and a nice road to the semis.
Roosevelt: Has the tools to win. Needs to maintain focus.
Auburn Mountainview: Has the offense. Needs to brings their "A" game defensively.
Auburn Riverside: Most improved, balanced and dangerous. Tough draw will make it difficult.
Enumclaw: All about the match ups. Quickly improving but starts in a brutal bracket.
Puyallup: The cardiac kids will find some way to make it exciting.
Maybe Next Year
Wilson: Looking to find consistency, but will make opponents work.
Peninsula: Improving but not there yet.
Emerald Ridge: Happy to be in the tournament, but life for the 12th seed won't be easy.
The objective of the tournament is to determine the champion, but this tournament is also about promoting and celebrating high school water polo in Washington. For our water polo community, it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Every team has their own unique story of challenges and accomplishments throughout the season and a loss, though disappointing, should not diminish their achievements. All of the players and coaches deserve our recognition and respect. Regardless of the outcomes, be sure to show your appreciation to all the athletes, coaches, referees, officials and volunteers that make this Championship tournament possible. Enjoy!!!