Water polo splashes into CIF playoffs

Chronicle Staff

At the beginning of the year, varsity boys’ water polo Head Coach Larry Felix was worried about filling the gap left by the departed seniors.

“You don’t try to replace them, you just teach and set kids up for success and use their strengths in the game situations,” Felix said.

Throughout the season, several juniors and sophomores have contributed.

After a successful season and a record of 22-4, Felix isn’t worried about the youth of this team.

“The seniors have all been to a CIF final, the juniors went to the semi-final last year against CDM,” Felix said. “Youth is no excuse if they can’t get themselves ready to play for a semi-final or even a first round game, that’s on them. They have got to be the ones ready to play. Most of these kids are battle tested they know what they need to do.”

“We all believe there’s no reason we can’t get a championship,” Jeff Schwimer ’07 said. “It’s four games and if you lose one you’re out. There’s no room for mistakes. It doesn’t matter who we play. It depends mostly on how we play.”

 “Our ultimate goal is to win it, but there are a lot of good teams in Division I, so we’ll just have to play our best and hopefully we will move on,” Brian Pingree ’07 said.

Schwimer and Pingree have been two of the biggest offensive and defensive leaders for the team this year, Felix said.

Schwimer has been a “key part” of the offense and has been able to score almost four goals per game, Felix said.

“Yeah, Jeff [Schwimer] and I try to be the leaders on the team,” Pingreee said. “I just try and set a good example for the team, work hard every day.”

“If those guys are having a good go, then everyone follows,” Felix said. If they say ‘It’s time to train’ and someone is mucking around, the kids get in line because they know how much it means to them. I’m lucky I have those two guys who take it extra seriously. But all the seniors are serious. And it’s a trickle down effect so hopefully it keeps carrying over on tradition.”

During the regular season, the Wolverines went undefeated in league for the ninth consecutive year.

“There are times when I think having games where we know we can win and work on stuff are good, and then there are times when I wish our league was a little more difficult,” Felix said. “We are where we are as far as league and I don’t want to change it. It prepares us. Playing Foothill and Wilson and CDM really prepares us outside of league helps.”

The team believes they have the ability keep playing well into CIF.

“We’re usually one of the smartest teams out there,” Pingree said. “We have good game awareness, I would say, and  we just play well as a team defensively, we just work hard and try to take away opponent’s strengths.”

The team plays their first CIF match Thursday against Woodbridge at Harvard-Westlake.
If the Wolverines win, they will play  either Esperanza or Laguna Hills in the quarterfinals at home next Tuesday.