Servite, the defending CIF-Southern Section Division 3 champion, is again expected to be among the best teams in D-3 as the 2019 boys’ water polo season prepares for its opening matches next week.
The Friars, who downed Los Osos 13-11 for the 2018 D-3 title, are ranked among the “teams to watch” issued Aug. 19 by the CIF-SS. Also ranked as “teams to watch” are Loyola, Mater Dei and Santa Margarita in the combined Divisions 1 & 2 poll, and J.Serra in Division 4.
Cathedral, last year’s Division 7 champion, has moved up to D-5 and is unranked in the opening poll despite the return of juniors Daniel Hernandez (D-7 Player of the Year in 2018) and Sebastian Farias (All-CIF first team in D-7). The Phantoms ended last season tied for second in the Valle Vista League, but caught fire in the playoffs and raced to the championship, beating Baldwin Park 12-7 in the final.
Catholic schools have won boys’ water polo championships in each of the past four seasons, with Mater Dei winning D-1 crowns in 2015 and 2017, and Santa Margarita winning D-2 in 2016. Apart from Servite and Cathedral’s titles, Loyola fared the best in the 2018 post-season, reaching the D-1 semifinals before losing by a goal to eventual champion Harvard-Westlake.
The 2019 regular season runs Aug. 26 to Oct. 19. Playoffs begin Oct. 22, with finals on Nov. 8 and 9 and the Southern California Regionals Nov. 12-19.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).