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Water polo: Guyer girls claim first state title with win over Southlake Carroll

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After rolling through the regular season with a perfect record and sweeping the North Region championship, the Guyer girls water polo team completed its historic run by claiming the school’s first Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association state championship Saturday night in Austin.

The Lady Wildcats (31-0) knocked off Southlake Carroll 11-7 in the final after taking the lead for good less than a minute into the game. Katherine Cullen and Presley Woods scored four goals apiece and Lexi Wong added three goals in the victory.

 “It was fantastic,” Denton school district aquatics coach Chris Cullen said. “I started coaching water polo in Denton ISD in 1999, and I had never coached water polo before that. To reach this pinnacle with the state championship almost 20 years later — it’s something I’ve always worked toward.”

The Guyer boys team, which advanced to the state final for the first time, fell just short of its own championship when Flower Mound won 8-6 in come-from-behind fashion. Guyer (18-4-1) jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period and was tied 3-all after two before Flower Mound gained control.

Cameron Cullen scored his third goal with 1:27 remaining in the fourth period to pull within one at 7-6, but Flower Mound put the game out of reach with a goal from Max Wade at the 1:12 mark.

“I’m very proud of them,” Chris Cullen said. “When we set goals at the beginning of the season, I told them we could come home with a top-three finish and they looked at me like I was crazy. They’re a little bummed right now, but this has been a historic year.”

Katherine Cullen and Cameron Cullen earned MVP honors at the state tournament, while Chris Cullen was named coach of the year. Lexi Wong was a first-team all-state selection while Carley Manuel and Nathan Wong earned second-team honors. Presley Woods received honorable mention.

“My daughter started playing when she was 8 and my son started playing when he was 7,” Chris Cullen said. “That’s 10 years worth of driving to practice, playing and watching water polo. We’re water polo junkies — we love it. It was a great feeling for our family.”

The girls clinched their spot in the final with a 13-9 win over Cypress Langham Creek on Saturday afternoon behind a strong second-half effort. The Lady Wildcats led 8-7 after two periods before outscoring the Lobos 5-2 with a big performance from Manuel, who had four goals, and Lexi Wong, who scored three.

 The boys needed overtime to sneak by Friendswood in the semifinals, as Nathan Wong and Cameron Cullen came through in the extra period. Cameron Cullen finished with five goals while Mason Hosteler added three goals and a team-high four steals.

Both Guyer teams dominated their opening matches Friday, as the Lady Wildcats routed Austin Westwood 21-2 and the Wildcats beat Cedar Park 15-0. The girls went on to defeat Houston St. Agnes 9-5 and the boys advanced past Houston Strake Jesuit 14-8.

Chris Cullen said sharing the program’s first state title with his daughter made it that much more special and expressed optimism at what the year’s success will do for Guyer in the future.

“It’s great, especially for our middle school program,” Chris Cullen said. “They want to come up and be a part of a championship team and contribute and be a part of that. It’s tremendous to get this final carrot on top of everything after all the hard work the kids put in.”

 

 

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