The Cooper City pool sprung a leak, but the boys’ water polo team has not cracked.
Quite the contrary — the Cowboys (15-7) have qualified for state for the first time since 2008 and will play Olympia (Orlando) in the quarterfinals Friday at 6 p.m. at the Ransom Everglades pool in Coconut Grove.
Qualifying wasn’t easy, but winning will be much tougher.
“We are absolutely an underdog,” said Cooper City goalie Sam Culver, whose brother, Chris, was a field player on the 2008 Cowboys team that made it to state.
“There has only been one public school [Northeast in 2005 and 2006] that has won state in water polo. It’s kind of hard to dream knowing that it’s only happened once, but our attitude is to go in there swinging.”
For most of the season, though, it was the Cowboys who took the body blows. It started with their home pool, which has been out of service all year as workers try to repair the leaks.
As workers try to repair the leaks in its home pool, the team has practiced at rival high school Nova during the only available opening, which was usually at about 7 p.m.
Culver said it also cost Cooper City a couple of reserve players who decided not to come out because of the inconvenience of night practices at another school.
Only one freshman came out for the team, and the result was a team that had only 12 players. It takes 14 players for a normal scrimmage.
Cooper City coach Gary Bogumill worries about the future of the program since he is graduating four seniors, and he is not sure how many freshmen players will arrive this fall.
In the meantime, he will rely on his son, Brandon Bogumill, a junior who leads the team with 97 goals, Culver and senior Connor Geair.
“Connor has a motor that never stops,” the coach said. “His first year, he clung to the wall. Now he’s my second-leading scorer with 80 goals.”
Bogumill considers St. Thomas Aquinas the favorite but warns that Miami’s Belen Jesuit is also a dangerous team.
Cooper City went 0-4 against teams that are at state this weekend, losing twice to Aquinas and twice to St. Andrews.
Culver, though, is looking forward to the challenge.
ALSO AT STATE
There will be two other Broward County water polo teams competing for state titles this weekend at Ransom:
• The Aquinas boys (21-1) are seeking their first title. They made it to the state title game last year but lost to Miami Gulliver Prep.
Aquinas, which split two matchups with Belen this year, returns all seven starters from last year and gets a shot at revenge right away, facing Gulliver in the quarterfinals Friday at 7:30 p.m.
• Westminster Academy’s girls (21-1) are also seeking their first title. Their only loss was to Gulliver, considered this year’s favorite. Gulliver won four consecutive state titles from 2005 to 2008.
Westminster opens with Winter Park, which has finished second at state the past three years in a row. That matchup is set for Friday at noon. Westminster would face Gulliver in Saturday’s semifinals if both teams were to advance.