Seminole boys and girls advance to state final-four

As he stood poolside looking back and reflecting over the past three hours, Seminole water polo coach Ryan Ackerson was all smiles.

When he took over as coach of the Seminoles one of things Ackerson said he did was to “ramp up” club water polo.

Four years later, it paid off in dividends as both the Seminole boys and girls advanced to the State Final-Four with wins in the FHSAA Region 1 Finals on April 12.

“I’m not going to lie, I thought eventually, and I felt confident this was something we could do,” Ackerson said. “A lot of these kids started (playing club four years ago) and that has 100 percent been a key (to our success).

“But it’s just awesome, it has to be one of the best days in our program’s history.”

The feat was no easy task for the Seminoles, down 9-6 with just over three mins left in the game, the boys fought back to down Winter Park 10-9 advancing to the state Final-Four in for the first time in program history.

“They just never gave up, “Noles coach Ryan Ackerson said. “The energy and intensity was the same the whole game. But it swung our way the final three minutes of the game.”

Riley Tarkowski kept the Wildcats at bay with 7 saves on the day. Mircea Timofti and Luke Jongsma had a pair of assists each. While Sophomore Becton Suber had 5 goals in the win.

For the third time this year, the Seminole girls downed Lake Mary this time by the largest margin of victory this season, 14-6.

Freshman Gabby Pierson had four assists; Halle Zimlich had 3 assists to goal with her 5 goals in the win.

The Seminole girls began the Region final a little slow, but Ackerson said he said things turned around quickly for his team.

“They threw something different at us,” Ackerson said. “But we played smart and got it figured out. I think from the second quarter on, we controlled the game.”

The Rams pressured the Noles defense slowing down Seminoles ability to quickly attack.

“It took away our ability to run a defense where we could run the counterattack,” Ackerson said. “But we were swimming fast up and down the pool, so we did get some easier chances because of that.”

With the wins, both teams will head to Belen Jesuit in Miami for the State Final-Four starting on April 19. The top-ranked girls will take on Number 4 Miami Country Day at 3:30pm. The third-seeded boys face host Gulliver Prep, the second seed, on the night cap starting at 8pm.

If the teams advance the state finals will be on April 20 – girls at 1:30pm, the boys at 3:30pm.