Facing a tough string of opponents, Andover Girls Water Polo avenged a 6-5 loss to Williston by defeating Loomis Chaffee 5-4 on Saturday, before falling to Exeter 3-2 on Wednesday.
Starting season with a 1-2 record, team members have been pleased with their strong performance, even after graduating many key members of the starting line last year.
Sarah Al-Mayahi ’17 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “In the first game, it took us a bit of time getting used to playing with each other. We all are really great friends, but we’ve never actually played together.”
Andover battled the defensively strong Williston in its season opener. Blocking 14 of Andover’s shots, Williston’s goalie posed a challenge that Andover was ultimately unable to overcome.
Andover pressed forward on offense, outshooting Williston two to one. Williston’s goalie went on to block 18 shots in the team’s next game of the day against Exeter. On Saturday alone, the Williston’s goalie blocked 90 percent of shots she faced.
Head Coach Dan O’Shea said, “In water polo, it really comes down to one player having an amazing day. Looking at all the other statistics, we had them beat on every other form. Our offense was stronger, our defense was stronger and we caused more turnovers than they did, so on paper we should have won the game but their goalie had an incredible day.”
The girls did not let their loss to Williston during the season-opener game discourage them during the rest of the day.
Anna Dear ’16 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Our team did really well in keeping a good attitude and not letting our loss against Williston affect our playing.”
Facing off against Loomis, Dear, a new goalie, stepped up her game. She blocked 14 shots and had a .85 save percentage.
“That game would have looked a lot different if it weren’t for the fact that [Dear] saved all those shots,” said O’Shea.
As time ticked down in the fourth quarter with both teams neck and neck on the scoreboard, Sasha Newton ’16 executed a precise pass to Al-Mayahi, who fired off a shot and found the back of the net, securing a 5-4 win for Andover.
Newton wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “In our second game, I think we did a better job of anticipating changes of possession and being aware of where the ball was.”
The team racked up a total of 27 steals across both games on Saturday, demonstrating the strength of Andover’s defense.
In preparation for Exeter, Howie Kalter ’07, Assistant Coach of the Andover Boys Water Polo, ran a shooting clinic for the girls.
O’Shea said, “We needed to have a more coordinated offense when we played Loomis this weekend, which we couldn’t do until the fourth quarter, but luckily our defense was so good that it wasn’t too late. We had to do that early against Exeter and come out hard. Exeter is a tough game, and we had to work on shooting.”
Despite the extensive practice, Andover’s offense came up short against Exeter and struggled to outscore its rival. Many Andover players had effective drives and shot attempts but had trouble finishing the plays.
Andover’s defense, however, proved itself to be a great asset to the team during the game against Exeter.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the low scoring nature of both of our games this weekend. It showed me that our defense is where I want it to be. It is absolutely playing out the way it needs to be,” said O’Shea.
Andover will look to rally its offense in preparation for a rematch at Williston on Saturday.