Winner of the past two CIF Division IV championships, the girls’ water polo team now faces the challenge of completing a three-peat while moving up a division.
When two-meter forward Morgan Hallock ’13 played for the team as a sophomore, the team had nine girls and no CIF championships in the program’s history.
Now two CIF championships later, the team looks to become the first Wolverine squad to three-peat since the 2003-2005 boys’ basketball team.
Every three years, leagues are realigned in the CIF, and due to the Wolverines’ success in Division IV, the team, along with the rest of their league, was moved up into Division III. As a result, they will face many of the same opponents in the regular season. Hallock said the main challenge will be the greater difficult of the playoffs’ opening rounds against stronger opponents.
Despite the Wolverines’ recent success, Head Coach Brian Flacks ’06 stressed that this year’s team is a new squad and they hasn’t won anything yet.
There is no doubt that Flacks is preaching the classic “one-game-at-a-time” approach.
“Winning a CIF championship is always the goal, but really the growth over the season is the most important thing,” Flacks said.
The team played Los Osos, who finished first in the regular season Divison IV rankings, in its past two CIF finals.
Last year’s team finished 27-5 on the season and was undefeated in 10 games of league play.
The team’s upcoming regular season includes matches against Mater Dei, ranked first in Division II, Murietta Valley, ranked first in Division I and rival Los Osos.
Hallock and driver Kassie Shannon ’13 lead the team as the experienced veterans from the past two CIF runs.
“Some of the younger players aren’t as experienced,” Shannon said. “So I think as a senior, it’s our job to instruct them and be a liaison between them and the coaches.”
The Wolverines’ offense will largely revolve around getting the ball to Hallock in front of the goal to get easy scoring opportunities, set guard Sydney Cheong ’14 said.
Cheong will be tasked with defending the opposing two-meter forwards and starting goalie Mary Morrissey ’13 will replace Kristen Lee ’12.
“[A three-peat] would be absolutely amazing,” Cheong said. “It would mean that all of our hard work has paid off. It would be a perfect culmination. I think it would be a great way for them [the seniors] to go out, as a thank you for everything they have done for us as a team.”
Her future in water polo already bright, Hallock wants to leave the program on a high note. Hallock competed for the U.S. Women’s Junior National team over the summer at the Pan-American games, where her team won the gold medal.
“For me it would be great to have three CIF championships, but even having two has been such a booster for the program and I think it is going to be one of the outstanding strong programs at Harvard-Westlake for years to come, especially with the new pool,” Hallock said. “It would mean a lot to me, but I think it would mean a lot to the school and that is ultimately what we are doing it for.”