In its second season competing in the CIF Open Division, the girls’ water polo team looks to improve on last year’s second round exit after going undefeated in Mission League. The team finished the regular season with an overall record of 12-11, and a league record of 6-0.
The girls ended league play by defeating Marlborough School 19-1 Jan. 24 and outscored all of their opponents by a total score of 98-22. Since the 2017-2018 season, the team has still yet to lose a league game, and has won 16 straight matches.
While it has experienced a great deal of success in Mission League play, the team has struggled to consistently win non-league games in the Open Division, attacker Juliette O’Brein said. Specifically, the squad has had trouble finishing close games. So far this season, the team has played in 10 games separated by four goals or less, but has only emerged victorious in three of them. In games separated by one goal, the team is 1-4.
First year coach Matt Kubeck said that team members need to remember to play like themselves and rely on their strengths during these tight games.
“When we just go out there and be really tough and physical, we are fantastic,” Kubeck said. “Just finding our identity is really important. Who cares what the other team is doing? We are just going to do our thing, and that’s when we are successful.”
Over winter break, the Wolverines competed in the 2019 Bill Barnett Holiday Cup at Corona Del Mar High School. The team went 2-2 in tournament play, defeating Coronado High School and San Clemente High School on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, respectively. During the tournament, the team lost to Corona Del Mar and Mater Dei High School, which are both currently ranked in the top 10 of the CIF Southern Section teams.
The Wolverines also competed in the Annual Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions from Jan. 9 to 11. The team went 2-3 in tournament play, with all of its losses by five goals or less. Both of its wins came against teams currently ranked in the top 20 of the Southern Section.
While the Wolverines are not satisfied with the results of these tournaments, starting O’Brien said that the Wolverines showed that they can compete with the best.
“We didn’t get the results that we wanted, but we matched up really well with some of the strongest teams in our division,” O’Brien said. “Even though we didn’t win all of our games, we proved that we are a strong team that can’t be overlooked by some of the historically successful programs like Mater Dei and San Clemente.”
Players said the team’s overall success can largely be attributed to Kubeck. He previously served as an assistant coach and became head coach of the team in September after former program head Emily Greenwood stepped down.
The upperclassmen’s leadership has also proved an integral part of the team’s accomplishments, Kubeck said.
“The leadership of the seniors has been amazing, which I didn’t think was going to come,” Kubeck said. “Our juniors have really improved, and sophomores need to continue to get better and better.
If we can make sure our seniors dominate like they have been, then we will be really successful.”