Miami-Dade High Schools

Gulliver boys, girls advance to state water polo finals

Gulliver coach Carroll Vaughan knew from the start of the season both her boys’ and girls’ teams had the talent to play for state championships.

The two will get the chance Saturday.

Both Raiders teams swept their early-round state tournament matches Friday at Ransom Everglades to advance to the state final.

Gulliver’s girls defeated Lake Nona 10-4 in the semifinals just hours after beating Pembroke Pines Charter 14-5. Gulliver will have to face its most familiar foe, Ransom Everglades, at 11 a.m. in the girls’ final. Gulliver’s boys will take on defending state champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas at 1 p.m.

Camila Schaefer scored a combined 11 goals to lead Gulliver’s girls (27-1), who will try to win their second consecutive state championship. Alex Guerra had three goals and two assists in the semifinal, and goalkeeper Andrea Guerra had six blocks.

“I’m glad the girls didn’t have to play Ransom until the final,” Vaughan said. “Both teams know each other well, and it’s a great rivalry between two great programs. Hopefully, we’ll have a few surprises for them.”

Ransom (25-2) dominated both of its matches, beating Boca Raton St. Andrews 24-3 in the quarterfinals and Winter Park 18-5 in the semifinals.

Gulliver leads the season series between the longtime rivals 2-1, with Ransom winning the last encounter in overtime.

Gulliver beat Ransom in last year’s championship match, 9-8, snapping Ransom’s four-year state championship streak.

The schools have combined for the past 13 state titles in the sport, predating the sports sanctioning by the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2005.

Chelsea Johnson finished with 14 goals on the day, scoring seven in each match to lead Ransom. Sophia Rivas had 10 combined goals.

“Losing two games early to Gulliver put things in perspective for this team,” Ransom coach Eric Lefebvre said. “They’ve really answered since, and we’re glad to be in this situation now.”

On the boys’ side, Gulliver survived a tough semifinal match against Orlando Dr. Phillips, winning 12-6. Andres Guerra had four goals and Jan Strusinski had three.

That victory followed a 21-9 quarterfinal win over Riviera Beach Suncoast in which the Raiders (23-6) overcame an early 2-0 deficit and took control in the second half.

Andres Guerra and Jonathan Chow each had five goals in that match.

aquinas beats BELEN

Belen shut down St. Thomas Aquinas star Erik Goldenberg, who had just one goal after getting 59 in his previous 23 matches.

But Belen could not silence Gal Ben Kiki, a 5-9 junior from Israel whose five goals were the difference in Aquinas’ 9-4 win in Friday afternoon’s crucial state quarterfinal match.

Aquinas, which beat Belen 13-10 in the 2013 boys’ water polo state final, lost to Belen 7-6 in overtime earlier this season. That set up Friday’s emotional quarterfinal.

Belen (22-3) led early, taking a 1-0 lead on the first of a team-high two goals by Cesar Gonzalez.