Girls’ water polo aims to defend title despite thin roster

Mila Barzdukas

Experience is going to be the key to the girls’ water polo team’s success this year as they work to continue their dominance in the Mission League and seek redemption for last year’s short playoff run.

The Wolverines are seeking another league title despite only sporting an eight-player roster. The team has no newcomers and no freshmen, but is relying on its versatility and veterans to outsmart opponents.

“Our biggest strength is probably experience,” Head Coach Brian Flacks ’06 said. “Because we have such a small program, we have a lot of young girls that have gotten the opportunity to play consistently in big games, so we never really have an

 issue of people never playing in games or there being little experience.”

The Wolverine roster contains only returners, led by Sydney Cheong ’14, Rebecca Armstrong ’14 and Sophia Gonzalez ’15.

“Our team is different this year not only by the number of the players on the team. I think also we are much more tight knit than last year,” Gonzalez said. “Some precautions we have to take in the water is to make sure no one gets too many ejections because if you have three you are out of the game. We also have to make sure we are in the best shape ever because some subbing may be limited.”

Returning as starting goalkeeper is Daily Hartmeier ’16, who had several starts as a freshman towards the end of last year.

“I definitely think we have a chance to be as good as we were last year,” Hartmeier said. “And I hope we can make it to the finals this year.”

Last year, the team went undefeated in the Mission League but lost in the CIF Southern Section Semifinals to Palos Verdes. Previously, they won back-to-back CIF titles over Los Osos.

Flacks said the sport is getting more competitive, and the players will need to work hard to win a title.

“League and CIF are getting more competitive every year,” Flacks said. “It will be difficult this year, especially with having a smaller team than we have had in the past.”

Flacks said Louisville is the squad’s toughest challenge in the Mission League.

“They always put together a strong team,” Flacks said.

Despite the challenge, the team is hopeful about their Mission League chances.

“Even though we lost some really good seniors, I think that we can definitely come back and win Mission League again,” Hartmeier said.

“What I’m looking forward to most is playoffs at the end of the year and seeing how far we can go,” Gonzalez said.