Stanford's 16A boys water polo club team improved over the past two years and the results were readily on display in Saturday's opening of the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics at locations throughout Orange County.
Playing without two of its top players, second-seeded Stanford beat Bakersfield 15-4 and San Jose WPF A 15-5, both at Estancia High in Costa Mesa.
Luke Bachler and Jacob Tsotadze, both from Sacred Heart Prep, are out with bad backs. Both are questionable.
In the last version of the JOs, two years ago in Orange County, the team placed 15th in the 14-year-old age group.
"They struggled," Stanford coach Terry O'Donnell said. "They have improved a lot."
The team entered the largest age group tournament in the nation as one of the favorites. Stanford won the Pacific Zone qualifying tournament and won the Futures Superfinals in Utah earlier in the summer.
Stanford grabbed a 7-0 lead after one quarter and it was 11-0 at half.
Sacred Heart Prep's Harrison Rohlen and St. Francis' Nicholas Verstak each scored three times to lead Stanford A.
Hassen Hove of SHP and Phillip Long and Razvan Alistar of Bellarmine each scored twice. Tommy Kiesling and Edwards Meeks, both of Menlo and Zane Tanabe of SHP also scored.
Rohlen and Verstak combined for five of the team's first 10 goals.
Also in the championship division, No. 30 Stanford B surprised No. 19 680 Red A 8-7 in its opener before falling to No. 6 San Francisco Warriors A 11-6. Stanford B rebounded with a 9-5 win over SB premier.
Both teams continue in group play on Sunday at Foothill High. Stanford A has games scheduled against No. 10 SoCal Black A at 11:10 a.m. and against Trojan A at 2:30 p.m.
Stanford B meets Lamorinda A at 8:40 a.m. and Northern California A at 3:20 p.m.
Third-seeded Stanford A had little trouble in finishing the first day of Championship Division unbeaten. Stanford beat CA Republic 20-2 and then stopped Foothill 15-9, both at Buena Park High.
Stanford A returns to the pool at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine with at least two games Sunday, beginning with La Premier at 10 a.m., followed by Vanguard Black A at 1 p.m.
In the Classic Division, Stanford B won its first game 14-10 over South Valley but then fell to Westside 10-6 and Tustin Patriot B, 13-12. All three games were played at Laguna Hills High.
Stanford B looks to rebound against Praetorian B at 1 p.m. at El Segundo Aquatic Center on Sunday. Stanford B meets Big Valley at 4:20 p.m.
Stanford A won its first two games in the championship division Saturday at Golden West College, beating American River B 13-2 and SBU 10-0. No. 16 Stanford meets No. 17 Mid Valley at 7 a.m. and North Irvine Black A at 11:10 a.m., also at Golden West on Sunday.
In the Classic Division, No. 19 Stanford B upset No. 3 PV Water Polo 9-7 and then topped No. 14 Southern 10-7, both at Portola High. Sunday at Laguna Hills High, Stanford B plays ORWP at 10:30 a.m. and Trojan B at 1:50 p.m.
Following the trend of the day, Stanford A won its first two matches in the championship division with wins over Lamorinda B 20-1 and CDM 20-5 at Ocean View High. Stanford A will be at Woollett Aquatic Center against Del Mar at 8 a.m. and Newport Beach A at 11:20 a.m. Sunday.
Stanford B, also in the championship division, lost twice Saturday, 23-4 to Tustin Patriot and 11-10 to American River at Capistrano Valley High. Stanford B looks to rebound against Vanguard B at 8:40 a.m. at Servite High on Sunday.