Club water polo — Club will welcome 10 other clubs for four-day extravaganza at the Chehalem Aquatic Center this weekend

Beginning Thursday, Newberg will be the epicenter for water polo in the Pacific Northwest, even more so than it already is, as the Chehalem Water Polo team will host 10 different clubs for its biggest summer tournament ever.

In addition to six clubs from Oregon, two from California — American River from Sacramento and East Bay from Livermore — and two from Washington — Rain City from Seattle and Puget Sound from Tacoma — will make the trip to add both variety and SETH GORDON - Crowded house – Craig Beecher and the Chehalem Water Polo Club will welcome 10 different clubs to Newberg for a tournament Thursday through Sunday at the Chehalem Aquatic Center.

Seth Gordon / Newberg Graphic

“We just had so much interest,” Newberg High School head coach Jim McMaster said. “I thought water polo would be having a hard time economically, but it doesn’t seem to be and teams are really interested in coming down.”

Newberg will field four teams — 16U boys, 18U boys, 16U girls and 14U coed — each with a different focus for the weekend.

For the 18U boys, who qualified second for the Junior Olympics next month, it will be about building chemistry and working on fundamentals as the team is just beginning an intensive conditioning program.

Playing cohesively, at least on offense was an issue at the May qualifying tournament, as Chehalem will not have threee starters — graduate Corban Day, senior-to-be David Flores Juarez and Seth Miller — for the summer season.

“We were kind of struggling with our offensive identity,” boys summer coach Jake Kinne said. “Losing those three starters, now we had one side of the pool not on the same page as the other side of the pool. We had a lot of possessions where we were just miscommunicating and wasting possessions.”

The tournament will also offer the teams’ younger players a chance to get valuable pool time in preparation for the high school season, where there will be four openings on varsity due to graduation.

“There are some holes to fill,” Kinne said. “So some guys are stepping into those holes and getting opportunities. That’s what it really takes is just reps, experience, let them get in there, make mistakes and learn.”

Chehalem placed second to Rain City in the Junior Olympic qualifier, but played much better defensively in their second matchup of the tournament, allowing 10 goals instead of 15.

“Moving towards JOs it’s all about earning ejections and executing our 6-on-5s,” Kinne said. “If you can do that at about 50 to 60 percent success rate, you’re going to be in every game.”

The 16U girls team is very young and inexperienced, featuring two seventh- and two eighth-grade student/athletes on the roster, and will look to improve up on its sixth-place showing at the Junior Olympics qualifying tournament.

“The awesome part is that they have so much room to improve,” Kinne said. “They’re not ultra trained and maxed out and not getting the results they want, so there’s potential there to get wins against those teams. It’s a matter of finding their identity a little bit.”

Kinne is also quite excited to see the 14U coed team in action, as that group represents the future of the program.

“There’s a lot of talent,” Kinne said. “The goal is just to keep it fun. There are group of about 15 kids that are very dedicated and it’s mixed boys and girls, all grades. It will be fun to watch those kids grow up and play. They’ll be successful.”

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