In its last weekend of competition, Andover Girls Water Polo countered the adversity it faced with high spirits and resilience, toppling Deerfield 4-3 before falling to Hopkins 9-0 on Saturday in its 2015 season finale. After this weekend, the team’s final record stands at 3-8.
Andover opened the day strong against Deerfield, boosting the team’s confidence when it won a tight match that called for Andover’s full focus.
“We were all very excited that we won against Deerfield. It was a close game, but our efforts paid off,” said Jess Gearan ’18.
Andover was challenged by Deerfield’s defense and quickly had to restrategize in order to turn the tide of the game in its favor.
“With Deerfield, we saw a very determined team that came out ready to play. They had a very strong defense with a good crash, and getting around that turned out to be difficult. To beat Deerfield, we had to become more aggressive on offense, and we did it in the second half,” wrote Head Coach Daniel O’Shea in an email to The Phillipian.
Andover faced a dominant Hopkins team next and was unable to capitalize on the momentum it built against Deerfield. Andover had trouble stopping Hopkins’ counter attack and making up for the early loss of Co-Captain Sasha Newton ’16 in the game.
In an email to The Phillipian, Co-Captain Kelly Xia ’15 wrote, “We faced a tough match against Hopkins this weekend. Newton fouled out in the first few minutes of the first quarter. This was frustrating to deal with, but our bench players really stepped up and we still managed to play a coherent game.”
Andover used the opportunity presented by its matchup against a much stronger Hopkins team to prove its tenacity.
In an email to The Phillipian, Michaela Hagler ’16 wrote, “Some of the positives that came out of this weekend were that we showed we were able to keep fighting through a tough game, such as Hopkins. I think we also showed our character as a team with our final play during the Hopkins game when we made a human wall to protect one of our players. Even though the play didn’t work out, we were able to laugh and still have a good time despite the hard loss.”
In a disappointing end to the season, the reigning New England Champions did not have enough wins to qualify for Championships, cutting its season short.
Although the team did not have the record it hoped for, Coach O’Shea and the players are proud of the season and the improvements the team has made.
During the team’s last game, Coach O’Shea pulled the girls aside and finished off the season on a positive note.
In an email to The Phillipian, Emma Donchi ’18 wrote, “My personal favorite memory was after our last game when Coach [O’Shea] talked to us. He told us how proud he was to be able to coach our team. I felt really lucky to be a part of that special moment.”
After four seasons coaching, Coach O’Shea will be graduating another group of talented girls who have grown with the team.
The Seniors on the team this season have significantly impacted their teammates, setting an example of mental grit and an infallible work ethic.
“I’ve been at Andover for four seasons now, and this group of Seniors are definitely special to me. They were part of that team that broke the 13 year New England title-drought, and they helped shape the culture of the entire program. I’m very proud of them,” said Coach O’Shea.
Despite losing talented players, the team still has young talent that will develop and be a strong foundation for seasons to come.
Coach O’Shea said, “We’re in a great spot for next season. The girls have worked so hard this year and have shown a tremendous amount of dedication and desire to learn. Our starting line is by and large going to remain intact and is only going to improve. We have a tremendous goalkeeper and a very eager bench.”
Although Girls Water Polo’s season was brought to an early end, it is looking forward to being a strong force in the pool next season.