Girls water polo team loses to Newport Harbor High School after winning in season opener


Leo Saperstein/Chronicle

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Attacker Jasmine Tang ’24 looks back at Girls Water Polo Program Head Jennifer Jamison during a drill at team practice Dec. 9. Tang and the squad are preparing to play their first league match of the season against Marymount High School on Jan. 6.

Charlie Seymour

After finishing the 2020-2021 season with a Mission League record of 2-0 and overall record of 6-3, the girls water polo team started the season with a 1-1 record. The squad defeated Dos Pueblos High School 14-8 on Nov. 20 and lost to Newport Harbor High School 22-5 on Dec. 11. The matches marked the team’s first competitive games under new Girls Water Polo Program Head Jennifer Jamison, who previously served as assistant coach for Brown University’s womens water polo program.

The girls water polo team remains the defending CIF Southern Section Division II champion from its 2019-2020 season, as the team’s 2020-2021 playoffs were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Team Captain and goalie Lena Bagley ’22 said while it took the team some time to adjust to Jamison’s style of play, players were able to adapt in time for their first matches.

“There was definitely an adjustment period in preseason with our new coach, but this fall we went to a lot of tournaments which really helped our team learn to play with her,” Bagley said. “[Jamison] brings a different perspective to the team. [Her] experience is also a great asset, as she’s worked with both college and high school programs.”

While boys water polo has 19 members on its varsity team, the girls water polo program is made up of 13 players in total. Utility Savannah Shaub ’23 said the team’s size has had both positive and negative impacts on the program’s ability to find success.

“Our close knit, intimate dynamic means we all work together really well, for we all individually play a large role on the team and contribute a lot,” Shaub said. “That said, having a small team is equally a challenge, because we all have to step up, and there is less room for error. This season, we are all going to grind hard to be the best teammates and athletes we can be, not only for ourselves but [also] for each other.”

 Utility Amber Nowaczek ’24 believes the intimacy of the team allows its members to play more fluidly with each other, but she said the team still still needs to find a more cohesive style of play.

“One of the team’s strengths is [its] chemistry, since we have known each other for so long,” Nowaczek said. “We care about one another and maintain positivity through both our victories and losses. However, I believe that we must continue to work hard in practice and discover our style of play to be as successful as possible and reach our full potential.”

The team will play its next match against Laguna Beach High School on Dec. 22 and its first league match of the season versus Marymount High School on Jan. 6.