The 2017 San Marino High School varsity boys’ water polo team was a memorable squad that won 24 games and reached the CIF Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals. Then-senior Dillon Goldsmith was one of the leaders of the group and the lone Titan to make the All-Rio Hondo League first team.
That success carried over into the collegiate level for Goldsmith, who helped the Cal Lutheran men’s water polo team reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.
“Obviously, it was a great first year,” said Goldsmith, who graduated from SMHS in 2018. “Our team was amazing and we accomplished a lot.”
The Kingsmen, who compete in NCAA Division III, fell to No. 1-seeded Pomona-Pitzer, 15-8, in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semifinals with three goals from Goldsmith. The team finished the 2018 campaign with an overall record of 16-12, setting the program’s new record for wins in a season.
Goldsmith credits the coaching staff, which was honored as the best in the conference, for guiding a young Cal Lutheran team to its best campaign in years.
“The coaching staff really inspires us all with an environment that keeps everyone accountable,” Goldsmith said of head coach Craig Rond and assistant coach Cody Pletcher. “It all starts with them.”
It was Rond’s attitude and philosophy that encouraged Goldsmith to pick Cal Lutheran after attending overnight stays at Occidental College and University of Redlands. The former Titan also appreciated the environment on campus.
“It definitely was also everyone on campus,” he said. “They were very nice and genuine. With the coaches and the people, it just felt right.”
Goldsmith admitted to “having no idea what [he] was getting [himself] into” going into his first game of the season, but it all came together in mid-September when the team traveled to Connecticut College to compete in a tournament. He scored eight goals in five matches, including a game-winner during overtime that propelled the Kingsmen to an 11-10 victory over Iona
College in their final tourney contest.
“That trip to Connecticut College, that’s where the whole team clicked,” Goldsmith said. “The coaches were still figuring out lineups then. I was part of the second line and they began to really put me in a position where I can achieve what I did.”
The confidence boost was just what the freshman needed as he went on to play in all but one contest for Cal Lutheran. Goldsmith was second on the team with 49 goals along with 19 steals, nine blocks and eight assists. He earned an Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-America honorable mention and made the All-SCIAC second team.
Goldsmith is currently training and working as a lifeguard at SMHS. However, the SMHS grad and his teammates are eager for more this fall season.
“Since the day we lost in the semifinals, we started thinking about a championship,” Goldsmith said. “We are all hungry to go and win it all. That’s the goal.”