Eight Sunshine State Games Water Polo Teams Earn Gold Medals on Championship Sunday
Eight gold medal winning teams were recognized on Championship Sunday of the 2023 Sunshine State Games Water Polo Championships at the Rosen Aquatic Center, in Orlando.
Since Friday, 57 teams have been in action, in eight age group divisions, for a total of 121 games. Over 2,000 goals were scored by approximately 1,000 players in the pool.
Two of the championship games went into overtime.
In the Girl’s 16 and Under Division, the Orlando Thunder beat the Seminole Water Polo Club, 10-9, in overtime.
Under a minute into the first three-minute overtime period, Surraya Fadloullah, took a long pass from the goalie and advanced toward the goal, hitting the winning shot with 2:08 remaining on the clock (pictured above). Fadloullah also scored the goal to give Orlando a 9-8 lead with 1:08 remaining. Seminole tied the game at 9 to force overtime with a goal at the buzzer.
“We wanted to shut down their outside because that’s where they were scoring,” said Thunder Coach Brian Martin, about the team’s plan devised during the break between regulation and overtime. “We were able to make a steal and got a good pass for the winning goal.”
It took the 14 and Under Coed Champions, the Miami Whitecaps, a bit longer to beat the Hialeah Storm 15-14 in overtime. After over two minutes of back and forth, Michael Weglarz, hit the game-winning shot with :07 remaining in first overtime.
The Miami Riptides Women’s Open Team won their 13th consecutive gold medal, dating back to 2010. The Riptides were undefeated in four games and defeated Orlando United in the Championship Game.
Following their gold medal game, Riptides player Gaby Montalvo, was recognized as the 2022 Female Athlete of the Year, for her contributions to the Riptides 16 and Under and Women’s Open teams.
Since last year’s success, Montalvo, a Riptides team member since 2015, has competed for the U.S. National Juvenile Team, in Athens, Greece and is currently training in California. She was unable to receive the award in person and will attend Brown University in the fall to play Water Polo. She is the first Water Polo player in the history of the Games to win an Athlete of the Year award.
South Florida Water Polo won the Boy’s 16 and Under Division, going undefeated in four games. South Florida outscored its opponents 67-14 in the four wins and scored an 11-2 victory over the Greater Orlando Aquatic Team in the gold medal game.
2023 Sunshine State Games Water Polo Championships Medalists
12 and Under Coed
GOLD: University Athletic Club; SILVER: Miami Whitecaps; BRONZE: Seminole Water Polo Club
14 and Under Coed
GOLD: Miami Whitecaps; SILVER: Hialeah Storm; BRONZE: South Florida Water Polo
16 and Under Girls
GOLD: Orlando Thunder; SILVER: Seminole Water Polo Club; BRONZE: NC Select
16 and Under Boys
GOLD: South Florida Water Polo; SILVER: Greater Orlando Aquatic Team; BRONZE: Florida East Coast Water Polo
18 and Under Girls
GOLD: Orlando United; SILVER: Florida East Coast Water Polo; BRONZE: NC Select
18 and Under Boys
GOLD: Miami Whitecaps; SILVER: Riptides; BRONZE: NC Select
GOLD: Riptides; SILVER: Orlando United; BRONZE: South Florida Water Polo
GOLD: Riptides; SILVER: Team Orlando; BRONZE: Tampa Bay Water Polo
The Sunshine State Games continues next weekend with Judo at Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach.
The Sunshine State Games is an annual Olympic-style Sports Festival for amateur athletes of all ages. Now in its 44th year, dating back to 1980, the Sunshine State Games is the longest continuously-running State Games in the U.S. The 2023 Sunshine State Game is held in conjunction with the Gainesville Sports Commission, Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing, Visit Lauderdale, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and Earl Enterprises.