When Eric Lefebvre meets most his water polo players at Ransom Everglades, they are in the sixth or seventh grade.
"I walked out to the middle school practice and I told them I have a proposal for you guys," Lefebvre said. "We can become state champions, but it’s going to take a commitment of years."
The Raiders celebrated the fruits of that effort Saturday afternoon following a 14-4 victory over Winter Park that secured Ransom its first boys’ water polo championship since 2008.
Ransom’s boys (30-0) completed their first unbeaten season in recent memory.
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It was also the fourth consecutive season a Miami-Dade County team won on the boys’ side.
"This isn’t something that started a month or a week or a day ago, it’s been a seven-year process," Raiders senior Miguel Lamar said. "I’ve been best friends with these guys in and out of the pool and we’ve become a family. That’s what separates a good water polo team from a great one."
Lamar, a 6-6 goalkeeper headed to MIT in the fall, is one of nine seniors that dove into the pool and relished in a long-awaited triumph for a boys’ program.
Ransom’s boys watched their female counterparts win seven of the previous eight state titles, without being able to win one of their own.
The Raiders changed that quickly Saturday with an offensive barrage that put the game out of reach by halftime.
Ransom overwhelmed Winter Park with a collective effort as seniors Kyle Arbide and junior Jake Pearson each had three goals. Seniors Spencer Williams and Jason Gould each had two.
"These [championship] games have a different feel and different emotions," Lefebvre said. "You have to show up for every play and every moment and we did it."
Lamar, who averaged 3.53 goals allowed per game for the season, also kept the Wildcats at bay with key early saves and steals.
There was no letdown for Ransom a day after coming back in the semifinals to beat St. Thomas Aquinas, a team that had reached the finals the previous five seasons, 8-7 in overtime.
Although Ransom graduates a large senior class, key returners such as Pearson, juniors Jordan Gould, Matthew Simko and Daniel Freedline and freshman Nico Valls should keep the Raiders in contention to repeat next season.
"We never once in the locker room talked about going undefeated," Lamar said. "We always talked about winning the next game and we did it."