Jacob Hudgins ’19 secured the ball on the wing and ripped it past Loomis Chaffee’s goalie and into the net to gain a man-up opportunity for Andover. Andover Boys Water Polo tallied nine additional goals, bringing the game to a final score of 10-9. The team’s record now stands at 9-2.
In its first game of the season, Andover fell short in a 7-8 loss against Loomis. On Saturday, the team felt it had something to prove in its second matchup with their opponent.
Wesley Maloney ’22 said, “We lost the last time we played Loomis by a goal at the very end of the game, so this time everyone had a little chip on their shoulder because they wanted to win and show Loomis that we were better.”
According to Co-Captain Eric Osband ’19, it was mentally challenging for the team to go into a game against a team they had previously been defeated by. The team worked hard in practice to prepare for Loomis’s style of playing.
Osband said, “We worked a lot on the things we did in practice, like we kept our heads up a lot on switches and we were very focused on covering the counter attacks and defense as a priority so even if they leave defense early, which is not good for them, we would follow them back, get the defense oriented, marking up.”
According to Osband, the team also prepared physically for the match-up against Loomis. The team did practiced egg-beater drills, sprint swimming, and team skills more than individual skills.
Before the game began, Co-Captain Neil Simpson ’19 spoke to his teammates to motivate them when playing Loomis.
“I gave a little speech to the players before we started the warm up. I said that this game really needs to be a turning point for our season. We have been in a little bit of a slump lately and we’re trying to turn things around before we head into the playoffs,” said Simpson.
According to Maloney, many players made important contributions in the team’s win, including Simpson, who played through an eye injury.
“Max Hunger [’20] had a lot of good plays. Our two captains [Simpson and Osband] did as well, but that’s kind of expected of them by now because it’s like an every game thing where they come out ready to play. [Simpson], he got elbowed in the face and had a huge puffy eye and was still playing. Eric really stepped it up to compensate,” said Maloney.
Osband, who scored four goals, said, “Neil and I have a good give-and-take, so if Neil’s hanging a little farther back on defense, I’ll try to go on offense and vice-versa.”
According to Maloney, the atmosphere of Andover’s large home crowd amplified the intensity of the game.
Despite picking up the victory, Simpson noted that the team still has improvements to be made.
“We made a lot of mental errors throughout the game. We really need to work on that in the coming weeks, but we felt that we did have them on the ropes for the majority of the game, so it’s kind of a shame that we let them [come back close] at the end of the game. We have a lot to work on still,” said Simpson.
The team has already qualified for play-ins this year, as it has already secured enough victories to outweigh any potential losses during the remainder of the season. In order to qualify for play-ins, the team must have an equal number or more wins than losses.
Osband said, “We’re definitely in, but even now it is really crucial that we beat these teams we lost to the first time — Loomis and Deerfield were the two — because that’ll increase our seeding and it’ll let us bypass a play-in game and send us straight to the semifinals.”
Andover will face St. John’s Prep this Friday, and Suffield on Saturday.
According to Osband, the previous time the team faced St. John’s, it won by a considerable margin. As the game on Saturday is not a league game and will not affect the team’s seeding, the team will use the opportunity to allow some JV players to gain varsity experience. The team has not faced Suffield yet this season, but historically it has been a close matchup.