Strong summer shows promise for this season

Strong summer shows promise for this season

Water you doin'?: Ethan Shipman '20 prepares to throw the ball in last year's game against Murrieta Valley High School on Sept. 6. Credit: Pavan Tauh/Chronicle

Despite the loss of key senior leaders from last season, the boys’ water polo team looks to return to its former glory and reach the CIF Division I Regional Finals.

The team fell short of its title goals last season, losing to rival Mater Dei 10-7 in the 2017 CIF Division I Regional Semi-Finals.

Despite roster changes, team members feel confident in the squad this season.

“We always lose great players but have people there to step in,” attacker Cristian Pang ’20 said. “We might have to change our gameplay, but no matter what obstacles stand in our way, we as a team and a family always find ways to achieve our goals.”

Two of last season’s leaders, left attacker Keller Maloney ’18 and goalkeeper Sam Krutonog ’18, are now playing at Princeton University and the University of Southern California, respectively.

“By losing [Maloney], we lost a huge chunk of our offense, but that forces other players to step up,” Pang said. “[Krutonog] was an amazing goalie, but losing him gives his younger brother [Nolan ’20] a chance to take his place.”

The team has been working hard this summer and won the Summer High School State Championship for the fourth time in six years.

To reach the championship game, they defeated teams that they have historically had trouble playing against, such as Huntington Beach High School and Oaks Christian School.

The Wolverines defeated Newport Harbor 11-8 in the championship game. The squad hopes to keep this momentum going as they move into the season.

“We’re all really excited for this season because last year we were a young team that performed above expectations, and we’re now more mature and experienced,” attacker Alexandru Bucur ’19 said. “We also just came off a really great club season which gave us a lot of energy going into preseason training.”

The pre-season has also been great for team chemistry, creating close bonds between team members. Coach Brian Flacks and center defender Nico Tierney ’20 have also just returned from a USA National Team trip to Youth Worlds in Hungary.

“This is one of the closest-knit teams I’ve been a part of because we’ve been through so much together and it’s made us grow really close,” Bucur said.

The squad has its first two scrimmages against Newport Harbor High School and Santa Margarita on Aug. 25 at Newport Harbor High School and its first league game is against Notre Dame on Sept. 4 at home.

“Our team is looking really solid this year and we have a really good chance to win CIF,” attacker Chris Kim ’20 said. “So far, we finished fourth in the Junior Olympics, won high school state and won the Futures Super Finals with our high school team. The team shows a lot of promise this year.”

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