By Richard Dunn     3/8/2016

On the heels of their CIF Southern Section Division1 boys water polo championship, Mater Dei High standout left-handers Luke Wyatt and Thomas Dunstan will continue to be teammates in college, as both are headed to USC.

A senior attacker, Wyatt – who scored the go-ahead goal in the CIF Division 1 title game against Harvard-Westlake – signed with the Trojans on National Signing Day Feb. 3.

Dunstan, a transfer from Connecticut for the 2015 season and a U.S. national team player, did not announce his intention on National Signing Day at Meruelo Athletic Center with 19 other Mater Dei student-athletes, but committed to USC a week later.

Mater Dei water polo standouts Bennie Seybold (Harvard) and Sean Duncan (Pepperdine) joined Wyatt at the signing table on National Signing Day, which celebrates the signings and commitments of student-athletes at the collegiate level.

“Dunstan was the best player in the country at his position,” Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman says. Dunstan, a stalwart defender and talented attacker, was considered one of the top two water polo recruits in the nation in the class of 2016.

A first-team All-Orange County selection and Trinity League Most Valuable Player, Dunstan chose USC over UCLA, and did not sign on Feb. 3 reportedly because he needed extra time to consider his decision based on great respect for both programs. Dunstan led Mater Dei in goals (79) and assists (58) and was second in steals (47). Wyatt, a first-team All-Trinity League pick, was third in goals (66) and second in assists (56).

In football, Mater Dei’s Andre Collins, Jr. (Nevada-Las Vegas), Grant Crum (University of Chicago), Elias Deeb (Chapman), Frank Martin II (USC) and Curtis Robinson (Stanford) signed with their respective schools or celebrated a college commitment.

Martin, a 6-foot-6, 285-pounder, is a four-star offensive tackle and Robinson (6-3, 205) is an outside linebacker. Both played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game and were selected to the Los Angeles Times’ All-Area football team. They led Mater Dei to a 10-3 record and rankings of No. 5 in the state and No. 17 in the nation, as head coach Bruce Rollinson’s Monarchs advanced to the CIF Pac-5 Division semifinals, losing to Corona Centennial, 42-36, at Santa Ana Stadium.

Mater Dei had a magical comeback victory over Gardena Serra in the second round of the CIF finals the previous week. In what was perhaps the defining moment in the Monarchs’ season, freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels completed a 2-point conversion pass to Robinson and Mater Dei rallied with less than five minutes left in the game to win, 28-27, on the road.

In Mater Dei’s CIF first-round victory over visiting Lakewood, 66-14, Robinson intercepted a pass early in the game to set up a touchdown as the Monarchs jumped to a quick 21-0 lead.

Mater Dei’s Trinity League highlights included wins over Orange Lutheran, 49-35, Servite, 42-10, and Santa Margarita, 45-14.

Ben Martin (Princeton) in boys soccer and Jed Smith (West Point) in wrestling also signed for the Monarchs, while the Mater Dei girls soccer team featured nine seniors either signing or celebrating commitments: Mikaela Doe (University of San Diego), McKenna Doe (USD), Amber Hadfield (Our Lady of the Lake University), Jessica Harloe (Cal State San Marcos), Lauren Markwith (Miami), Taraware Morris (Pepperdine), Madison Puliafico (UC Irvine), Hailey Stenberg (Pepperdine) and Olivia Ware (Northeastern).

Ivy League and Division III colleges do not offer athletic scholarships, but student-athletes often commit to a college because of other types of academic- or school-based scholarships or support.

Mater Dei’s girls soccer team, ranked No. 1 in Orange County by the Orange County Register at regular season’s end, won the CIF Division 1 championship in 2015 with a slew of juniors. This season, the Monarchs hope to win the school’s third CIF championship in the sport. Under coach Matty West, the Monarchs have advanced to three CIF title-game appearances and captured two banners – 2007 and last season, when they defeated Laguna Hills in the CIF Division 1 final in an overtime shootout, 3-2.

In a dramatic final, Mater Dei goalie Puliafico blocked Laguna Hills’ final two shots in penalty kicks as the Monarchs secured the title. Her last save against the Hawks’ fifth and final kicker resulted in great jubilation for the Monarchs, who battled the Hawks for 80 minutes in regulation and two 10-minute periods of overtime before the decisive shootout.

Mater Dei finished 15-4-7 last season and dominated the Trinity League this season with a 6-1-1 record. The Monarchs (16-3-4 overall at press time) are hoping to repeat as CIF champions.