Andover Boys Water Polo fielded a relatively inexperienced team in the 2014 season, crippled by the loss of ten Seniors after capturing the 2013 New England Championship.
The team will face a similar challenge this year as it figures out how to recover from the absence of graduated Seniors Alex Li ’15, Chris Li ’15, Eliot Sagay ’15, Marc Sevastopoulo ’15 and Aaron Teo ’15.
Players like Alex Li and Teo, although neither the largest nor the strongest, earned the respect of their teammates by constantly giving every ounce of will in the pool and always looking to improve.
Dylan Norris ’16 said, “The loss of key players like Mark and Aaron is going to hurt us at first. They were great players and played like they were 6’10” and 300 pounds.”
Captain Nick Faulkner ’16 will look to place the team squarely on the shoulders of his 6’6” frame and lead Andover to the New England Prep School Final Four. Faulkner was simply unstoppable last season, scoring up to ten goals in one particular game.
“[Faulkner] is going to take the team as far as it can go next year. Every season he comes back stronger and smarter in the pool, and he sets an example that the rest of the team wants to follow,” said Sevastopoulo.
Joining Faulkner in support of the team will be the equally imposing Norris, who also stands at 6’6” and is looking to improve in his second year with the team. Guided mostly by his raw talent last year, Norris improved significantly over the course of last season and hopes to show the same type of progress this season.
Returners Darren Ty ’16, Jonathan Xue ’17, Christian Alberga ’17 and Daniel Tran ’17 will also look to make an impact this year.
Many of the team’s returning players are members of Boys Varsity Swimming, which will help to make it a very hard group to defend in terms of speed. The team will be running a standard offense with a 2-meter player, with the defense being a meter drop.
Perhaps the most devastating loss will come in net. Sagay relied on a lanky frame to prevent goals and was excellent last season, contributing a save percentage well above the average of 30 percent.
To fill his void, Andover Water Polo has recruited Junior Ryan Sedagat ’19. Sedagat has already made a strong impression in the preseason.
The team also eagerly anticipates the leadership of new Head Coach Dan O’Shea. Seasoned O’Shea guided Girls Water Polo to a New England Championship in 2012 and 2014.
“[O’Shea] has a great record under his belt coaching the Girls team, and we look forward to seeing how he can help us,” said Norris.
Faulkner added, “[O’Shea] is a very talented coach. I think we will have a solid team once cuts are made, and combined with his coaching, I think we are set to have a successful season.”
The team looks to build its chemistry in the pool before its season opener, a crucial element to success.
Ty said, “Our main focus is getting to know each other better as a team. We’ve been doing a lot of work just getting back in shape as well as doing basic drills to get the new players up to speed. We expect to give it our all and hope for the best.”
Andover Water Polo opens its season at home Saturday, September 19 against Loomis Chaffee and Hopkins.