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Palos Verdes Looks Like Water Polo King : SEASON PREVIEW

September 22, 1989|GREG GONZALEZ

In Chick McIlroy's first year as Miraleste High water polo coach, his team reached the CIF-Southern Section 2-A playoffs but was eliminated in the first round.

The next year, 1987, the Marauders made it to the quarterfinals before losing to South Pasadena. Last year they lost in the first round.

"This year, I hope to go farther," McIlroy said. "I have more talent on this team than any I've ever coached, but it's also the most frustrating."

Frustrating may the key word for Miraleste in 1989. All-Ocean League junior Zoltan Gyurko and two other players were suspended from at least one workout this week for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. McIlroy said Gyurko is working his way back onto the team but will not be in today's game against Muir.

Gyurko may be out of the pool temporarily, but Palos Verdes transfer Todor Prlainovic won't play a minute for the Sea Kings.

Prlainovic, a native of Yugoslavia who moved to the United States this summer, has been declared ineligible by the Southern Section because he is not part of an approved foreign exchange program, said Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas.

Considered a world-class junior player, Prlainovic averaged six goals a game this summer for the Sea Kings.

Even without the talented transfer, however, Palos Verdes is expected to be one of the best teams in the South Bay, if not the best.

Miraleste will challenge Palos Verdes for king of the hill and the South Bay.

At full strength, Miraleste is considered a contender for the 2-A title. The Marauders (4-3) are ranked seventh in the division.

McIlroy, though, was cautiously optimistic about his team's chances before word of the suspensions came: "I believe we have the capability of being a Final Four team, but you'd never believe it, watching them play last week. It's like being on a roller coaster coaching these guys."

Miraleste lost to Loyola and Gahr last Saturday. The previous weekend, they beat three teams en route to the championship game of the Irvine tournament, where they lost to the 3-A Division's top-ranked team, Capistrano Valley. The Marauders have also lost to Harvard, the fourth-ranked team in the 3-A.

Palos Verdes was the only South Bay team that went undefeated during summer league play, but that was with Prlainovic.

"We're one of the best teams in the 3-A without (Prlainovic). With him, we're No. 1," said Palos Verdes Coach Jovan Vavic, whose team is ranked ninth in the division.

Perhaps the king of South Bay water polo will be crowned at the El Segundo Tournament on Oct. 6 and 7, when virtually all of the area's teams will compete.

A closer look at the top teams in the South Bay:

Coach Vavic of Palos Verdes is lamenting the CIF ruling on Prlainovic, but don't expect other coaches to be sympathetic. "No one can touch them in the South Bay," Rolling Hills Coach Frank Akins said.

The Sea Kings return three seniors from last year's Bay League championship team that won a school-record 20 games. They are Jeff Kimball, the team's best driver and shooter, defensive specialist Chris Cormier and John Karambulas, the hole man and the No. 1 player on the team, according to Vavic.

Juniors Chris McAllister and Jason Chung are expected to contribute, as is junior goalie Mike Szilard, who has been "improving every day," Vavic said.

Palos Verdes (6-3) could compete for the 3-A championship with or without Prlainovic. "I don't expect to lose any more games, at least until the playoffs," Vavic said.

"I'm beating my head against the wall, " McIlroy said of his young Miraleste team. "They're having a hard time learning that there is no 'I' in team. The word is commitment, you have to do what's necessary to win, thinking in terms of the team."

One of only two seniors on the team, forward Duane Lauchengco is Miraleste's co-captain and team leader, McIlroy said. The other co-captain is junior forward Kyle Hildebrand, who played on the national champion Junior Olympic team this summer. Hildebrand will team with other junior Olympians Gyurko and Neal Searing.

In goal for the Marauders is junior David Reed.

McIlroy said a win against Muir today would put Miraleste "in the right direction, but the team's attitude won't change overnight."

Poised to challenge Miraleste for the Ocean League title is El Segundo. The Eagles posted a 5-20 record last year, but are much improved. "We'll win at least as many as we'll lose," Coach Henry Stuart said. El Segundo was 7-7 during the summer.

But the Eagles are still young and might be a year away from serious title contention. Top players include senior Mike Whitney and the team's fastest swimmer, junior Robert Ingersoll.

Chris Lubba, only a sophomore, is the Eagles' new goalie. "He has big legs; he's big and rangy and not afraid of the ball," Stuart said.

"I've got my problems," Mira Costa Coach Mike Nollan said. To be exact, Nollan has eight problems, replacing the seniors who graduated from last year's CIF 2-A semifinalist team that went 23-9.

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