Riding the National Championship buzz

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Peter DeSoto of Seal Beach battles it out with a University of Texas defender during the National Collegiate Club Water Polo Championship game in November. Photo courtesy of Collegiate Water Polo Association

It’s not everyday you win a national title.

Teams are lucky to even make the playoffs.

And, if they do make a national title game and lose, the chances of making it back next year are even slimmer.

A loss at such a high stage can demoralize and cause most to weary.

However, the bold pick themselves up and fight their way back to the top.

In November, a Seal Beach native and his college water polo club team did just that.

Peter DeSoto, of Seal Beach, and the San Diego State University Water Polo Club team won this year’s Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship on Nov. 12.

“I think we all had to take a double take after the win because after putting so much effort into achieving this, and finally getting there, it just seemed too good to be true,” said DeSoto.

The squad triumphed over a University of Texas team 7-4 to claim a national title that had eluded the California team for years.

The team had been to the national title game twice before DeSoto, who’s a sophomore, arrived to the team; once in 2014 and once in 2015.

In 2016, DeSoto and the squad missed out on the national title game altogether and finished in third place.

“This year we trained harder and knew that our overall goal was to win the national title so that motivated us to push ourselves harder,” said DeSoto.

It was an ambitious goal that the team accomplished in an undefeated fashion, said DeSoto.

“Winning the national championship felt awesome,” said DeSoto. “I have never been on a team that has made it this far in a division and to go undefeated this year was pretty sweet.”

The local athlete didn’t let the hype of the game get to him. Even though he was floating in uncharted territory, DeSoto, a seven-year veteran to the game, went back to the basics.

To prepare, DeSoto says he rid his mind of “expectations” and focused at the task at hand.

“If I focus and play my own game instead of falling to our opponents playing style, I feel stronger and have more confidence,” he said. “That seemed to pay off this tournament.”

Now with a title in hand, DeSoto did not give the cliché answer that so many athletes give when asked what’s next?–I’m going to Disneyland!

Nope, he says he’s hitting the pool and that this win has only increased his hunger for more.

“At this point, water polo is just something I really can’t seem myself giving up. As of now, I’m just going to continue working hard with my team and see if we can’t win another title or two,” he said.

Riding the National Championship buzz