Tough Competition Tests Waterpolo

Andover Girls Water Polo suffered two losses on Saturday to Deerfield, 11-3, and Greenwich High School, 21-3, ending the team’s five-game winning streak. “Up until this weekend we hadn’t had a team really challenge our style of play in a substantial way like Deerfield and Greenwich did,” said Coach Daniel O’Shea. While Andover has faced teams in the past that have tried to shut down its counter attack, no opponent had been successful until the team faced Deerfield and Greenwich. Despite missing some key starters due to illness, the team went into its games this weekend with confidence from its five-game winning streak. The team was ready for a fight, especially against Greenwich, an outstanding team with numerous All-American players. “Greenwich has always been a major powerhouse and plays superb water polo for an East Coast team,” said O’Shea. Having played together all year, GHS proved to be a force and demonstrated great team unity. Andover was continuously shut down as Greenwich’s strong and coordinated offensive players overpowered Andover’s defense. Deerfield was also very strong on defense, having improved greatly since last season. In order to challenge the well-rounded team, Andover had to play its best and step up to Deerfield’s skill level. “Deerfield has two key scorers. Going into the game, we knew that we would need to execute strong defense against them,” said Co-Captian Julia Smachlo ’13. “In the Deerfield match we didn’t play too poorly defensively, and I’m not really displeased at their score. I think we do need to improve our offense though,” O’Shea said. Despite scoring two goals by halftime and pulling ahead 3-2, Andover’s offense struggled against Deerfield’s skilled goalie. Defensively, Andover pressed as hard as it could to prevent goals but was overpowered by Deerfield’s aggressive hole set. Deerfield scored eight more goals in the second half, clinching the victory. Both Deerfield and Greenwich had very effective offensive games that included strong hole sets and outside shooters. “We adjusted by having our outside players move between the hole and the perimeter,” said Kaitlin Simpson ’14. Simpson, Smachlo and Co-Captain Amelia Danovitch ’13 scored the only goals for Andover in both games. Another standout player from Saturday was Lauren Conte ’14. “She toughed it out for the team and played pretty much all of both games even though she was really sick,” Simpson said. Andover has a two week dry spell coming up and with no games to focus on, it has time to plan out and improve its fundamentals, as well as internalize new offensive and defensive strategies. “We’re going to have to make adjustments to our shooting, passing and driving if we want to continue to succeed,” said O’Shea. Andover hopes to rest up and prepare for its upcoming matches at home against Choate and Loomis Chaffee on May 4.