Langley: home of water polo champions.
The community can stake this claim after winning the annual B.C. High School Water Polo Championships, held at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre in Fleetwood from May 13 to 15.
Team Langley had a perfect 4-0 record and placed first out of 11 Tier 2 teams. There was no Tier 1 final this year.
This was the first time in 22 years a team from Langley has won gold at this event.
Langley’s team consisted of 10 players from four different schools – Grant Phillips-Hing and Paige Dong (Langley Fine Arts); Georgiy Belyaev, Tim Orda, Zach Jennejohn, Danielle De La Gorgendiere, Chelsea Borrowdale and Renae Ledoux (Walnut Grove Secondary); Owen Griffiths (Langley Secondary); and Alan Cho (Alex Hope).
Langley’s coach, Deena Charles, is from Brookswood Secondary.
The team’s honorary assistant coach was Ilya Belyaev.
While some of Langley’s players were accomplished swimmers, the team held its first water polo practice only three weeks prior to the tournament.
With the assistance of athletes from Fraser Valley Water Polo – Grant, Georgiy, Tim and Deena – they learned the objectives and rules of the game very quickly.
Going into the final day of the weekend tournament, there was a three-way tie for the gold medal game after Langley, Garibaldi, and Surrey/South Delta had all won their first three games – and all with an identical 13 goals-against.
The gold medal game was determined by lottery and resulted in a Langley and Garibaldi showdown the afternoon of May 15.
The two teams played a very exciting and close game with Garibaldi tying the score at 10 goals apiece with just minutes left, leading to a shootout.
After Garibaldi’s first shooter missed, Langley and Garibaldi shooters then exchanged consecutive goals through four rounds of the shootout.
In the fifth round, Garibaldi’s final shooter missed on a skip-shot which sailed high over Langley goalie, Tim Orda, and the net, resulting in a 14-13 Team Langley victory.
The B.C. championship trophy will be taken to all of the participating schools before residing at Walnut Grove Secondary until Team Langley has a chance to defend its title in 2017.