With the return of Orange Empire Conference fall playoffs for the first time since 2019, both of Orange Coast College’s water polo teams will get the chance to win an OEC title for the Pirates this weekend.
Dan Matulis’s water polo teams will have to play the role of underdog this postseason, as both squads must go through defending state champions to win the title.
Men’s water polo (14-6, 3-2)
The first round of the OEC Championships begins Thursday at 10:20 a.m., where No. 3-ranked OCC is scheduled to play No. 6 Fullerton College (2-27, 0-5). All games in the tournament will be played at OCC’s Aquatic Center.
At 1:00 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. on Thursday, Golden West College (21-2, 5-0) and Saddleback College (24-5, 4-1) will play the advancing teams in the OEC Championships semifinal games at their respective times.
On Saturday at 1:50 p.m. the finalists will play in the OEC title game. GWC will look to 5-peat in the OEC, and add on to their just-as-long state championship streak.
The Pirates will lean on freshman attacker Dane Howell, who leads the team with 47 goals in 18 matches — which is 14 more goals than the next highest OCC scorer.
Freshman attacker Caden Carpenter has also been a valuable playmaker for the Pirates this year, leading the team with 22 assists.
Women’s water polo (17-3, 4-1)
OCC will host the OEC championship semifinals this Friday at 2:20 p.m. Because the Pirates earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament, they will benefit from a first-round bye, and await the highest seed remaining after the opening round.
The Fullerton Hornets (24-6, 5-0), who are defending a state championship, hold the No. 1 seed, and will play the lowest-seeded team remaining after round one.
On Saturday, the OEC Championship title game will be hosted inside the OCC Aquatics Center at a time to be announced.
Led by sophomore attacker Destiny Hernandez, OCC’s offense features four players with over 30 goals on the season. Hernandez, who has 42 goals total, is the only Pirate with at least one goal in each game she has played this season.