Water polo | Season preview

Israels takes aim at state title

 

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DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS

Boys Gulliver Prep

Girls Ransom Everglades

KEY DATES

Wildcat Invitational March 1-2

St. Andrews Invitational March 8-9

Gulliver Invitational March 15-16

Ransom Everglades Invitational April 5-6

Districts April 15-20

State play-inApril 23

State tournament at RansomApril 26-27

TOP RETURNERS — BOYS

Brandon Bogumill Cooper City, Jr.

Eric Goldenberg St. Thomas, So.

Max Lettau St. Thomas, Jr.

R.J. Moore St. Thomas, Sr.

Michael Walk St. Thomas, Jr.

Bruce Espinoza St. Thomas, Sr.

Kyle FreireFort Lauderdale, Sr.

Blake Kelley Pines Charter, So.

Taylor Stewart Northeast, Jr.

Richard Cook South Broward, So.

TOP RETURNERS — GIRLS

Sierra Herbert Cardinal Gibbons, Jr.

Caroline IsraelsWestminster Academy, Sr.

Sahra Gargum Northeast, Sr.

Koral LaStella Westminster Academy, So.

Carolina Vargas St. Thomas, Sr.

Taylor Aasen Cypress Bay, Jr.

Kelly Chmura Cooper City, Sr.

Kimberly Audette Pines Charter, Sr.

Mimi Nakis St. Thomas, Jr.

Anna Smith-Johnson St. Thomas, So.

BOYS’ OUTLOOKS

Cardinal Gibbons: Coach Mark Veszi, 5th year, 88-39. Last season: 13-6. Top players: Charles Mahalec, Jr.; A.J. Martin, Jr.; Chris Casey, Jr.; Andrew Truduew, Jr.; Fisher Crist, Jr.

Cooper City: Coach Gary Bogumill, 4th year. Last season: 14-1. Top players: Brandon Bogumill, Jr.; Connor Gearir, Sr.; Sam Culver, Sr.; Aiden Goldberg, Jr.; Lucas Gonzalez, Sr.; Patrick Ellis, Jr.

Fort Lauderdale: Coach Debbie Cavanaugh, 4th year. Last season: 6-4. Top players: Kyle Freire, Sr.; Hunter Becker, Jr.; Ian Vicnansky, Jr.; Reno Erikson, Sr.; David Bernard, Sr.; Coner Heatherman, Sr.

Hollywood Hills: Coach Kristen Garica, 11th year. Last season: 2-10. Top players: Adam Ifargam, Sr.

Northeast: Coach Loren Rey Price, 15th year. Last season: 6-9. Top players: Taylor Stewart, Sr.; Aaron Hernandez, Sr.; Gabor Veszelovsky, Sr.; Parkar, Dobrick, Jr.; Pierre Porchiola, Sr.

Pembroke Pines Charter: Coach Luis Soler, 10th year. Last season: 9-3. Top players: Blake Kelley, Jr.; Zeeshan Rizvi, Sr.; Shane Strump, Sr.; Ivan Katusa, Sr.; Adrian Cortez, Jr.; Zachary Oram, Sr.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Coach Mike Goldenberg. Last season: State runner-up. Top players: R.J. Moore, Sr.; Eric Goldenberg, So.; Max Lettau, Jr.; Michael Walk, Sr.; Bruce Espinoza, Sr.

Westminster Academy: Coach Denise Israel, 5th year. Last season: 12-7. Top players: Jason Woodburn, So.; Nicolas Shyne, Sr.; Daniel Zubero, Jr.; Arthur Soderberg, Sr.; Max Bevill, Sr.; Henry Kluger, So.

GIRLS’ OUTLOOKS

Cardinal Gibbons: Coach Mark Veszi, 5th year, 88-39. Last season: NA. Erin Herbert, Jr.; Liz Ryder, Jr.; Brianna Dumais, Sr.; Kate Herbert, Fr.

Cooper City: Coach Ross Benner, 4th year. Last season: 14-5. Top players: Kelly Chmura, Sr.; Michelle Gontko, Sr.; Sarah Lehman, Jr.; Harley Rein, Jr.; Morgan Huck, So.; Brianna Schlunaker, Sr.

Fort Lauderdale: Coach Debbie Cavanaugh, 3rd year. Last season: 6-4. Top players: Cassandra Wild, Jr.; Hayley Hill, Fr.; Mikaela Aponte, Sr.; Danilla Ortiz, So.; Thalia Navia, So.; Stephanee Rogers, Jr.

Hollywood Hills: Coach Kristen Garcia, 11th year. Last season: 11-4. Top players: Brittany Spencer, Sr.; Jessica Amrani Jr.

Northeast: Coach Loren Rey Price, 15th year. Last season: 3-4. Top players: Sahra Gargum, Sr.; Amy Bartlett, Sr.; Chanel DeBrabant, Sr.; Cecilia Smith, Jr.; Osianna McReed, So.; Elizabeth Chupp, Sr.

Pembroke Pines Charter: Coach Luis Soler, 10th year. Last season: N/A. Top players: Kimberly Audette, Sr.; Marcela Gallardo, Jr.; Gaby Cabeza, Sr.; Victoria Hill, So.; Caroline Cabeza, So.; Mollie Bayer, So.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Coach Gary Besbris, 11th year. Last season: 10-11. Top players: Carolina Vargas, Sr.; Mimi Nakis, Jr.; Anna Smith-Johnson, So.; Paloma Schafer, Fr.; Natalya Gutierrez, Sr.;


Special to The Miami Herald

Westminster Academy senior Caroline Israels has accomplished more in her high school career than most athletes do in their whole lives. A four-sport star, Israels will have earned a whopping 24 varsity letters by the time she graduates.

Israels is one of the most recognized athletes in Broward County history. Competing in high school and club swimming, volleyball, soccer and water polo, Israels has won a number of awards for her efforts on the court and field and in the pool.

“I’ve been doing double and triple practices forever,” she said. “It’s always nice to have the different variety instead of just one sport. You kind of get sick of one sport and by the time you get to college, you don’t want to play that sport anymore.”

Although a force in all her sports, Israels has gained the most attention for her water polo talent. The senior, who is among the highest scorers in state history, has been a three-time Miami Herald Broward County water polo Player of the Year winner. She was also named The Miami Herald’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2012.

Because of her significant high school statistics and her national exposure through her club team Riptides, Israels received a scholarship to play college polo for nationally renowned San Diego State University.

Israels, whose been playing on the school’s varsity squad since sixth grade, scored an astonishing 203 goals, which helped her team reach the state final four last season.

For all her accolades, Israels insists competing is the most important part for her.

Being eliminated in the state semifinals was bittersweet for Israels and her team. It was the first time since 2006 the girls’ squad advanced so far in the postseason, but the defeat left the team hungry for more.

In an effort to be better prepared for the playoffs, a number of the team’s players began practicing polo with a club. Israels hopes the extra practice will better serve the team in the “big game.”

“We have six club players,” she said. “We at least want to get back to the top four. I want everyone to incorporate something into the game.”

Boys’ contenders

After a bitter defeat in last year’s state final, St. Thomas seems poised to make another run at a championship.

The Raiders return all their players, including three seniors to their starting rotation.

“It’s all going to come down to the [state] semifinals and finals,” Aquinas coach Mike Goldenberg said. “I feel pretty confident.”

Although preferring to shy away from singling out individual players, Goldenberg instead insisted his team’s success will come from their ability to play together.

“I don’t want to separate anyone. We have a solid group of seven starters,” he said. “I think they all should be acknowledged.”

The Raiders boast four Miami Herald first-team selections, including goalie Michael Walk, senior R.J. Moore and sophomore Eric Goldenberg, son of the Raiders’ coach.

The younger Goldenberg, who was also selected as The Miami Herald’s Male Player of the Year, had 85 goals and 37 assists last season.

Aquinas will have some tough competition once the playoffs start. There are several boys’ teams from around the state that also have legitimate shots at winning a state title. The older Goldenberg understands the challenges his team will face and is constantly pushing his players to stay focused. Last season, Aquinas came within a quarter of winning the school’s first boys’ title, but a late lapse allowed Gulliver Prep to win by two goals.

“It’s great to get into the finals, but unfortunately we lost,” he said. “It’s experience you cannot buy.”

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