Reigning NEPSAC New England Champions, Andover Girls Water Polo has started its training with a splash as it prepares for its upcoming season, coming from last year’s 9-3 record.
Last season, despite being seeded third, the team went all the way to be crowned Champions against Choate in a nailbiting 8-7 victory. The team will have its sights set on defending its Championship title.
In an email to The Phillipian, returner Michaela Hagler ’16 wrote, “I think overall we need to keep our passing and communication in the pool as tight as possible in order to win the Championship again.”
The team lost half of its starting lineup and will be looking for the newcomers to step up to achieve its goals.
The team will miss the excellent leadership and superb offensive prowess from Co-Captains Kait Simpson ’14 and Lauren Conte ’14, as well as the skill of Harshita Gaba ’14 and Corinna Torabi ’14.
The largest obstacle the team must overcome is its lack of a goalie. Last year, Andover graduated stalwart Jen Powers ’14, leaving a void in the lineup that needs to be filled.
Despite these setbacks, Head Coach Dan O’Shea has high expectations for fresh faces and expects to be impressed.
He said, “Every year I have brand new players that have never played before who always step up in a big way.”
Unlike years past, the team did not do any kind of preseason. It began its tryouts the first day back from break and will continue through the week.
Since many Water Polo players also competed on the swim team, O’Shea felt it was more beneficial for the girls to get some rest after a long swim season.
O’Shea said, “Many of the swimmers would have been on tapers and getting back in the water wasn’t going to be feasible. To do some kind of workout of skill set and then have a break for two weeks wasn’t going to allow it to sink in.”
The team will consist of many swimmers, which brings advantages and disadvantages.
In an email to The Phillipian, Sarah Al-Mayahi ’17, member of the swim team and returning Water Polo player, wrote, “Since many people trying out are swimmers, many people are super fast in the water and that’s definitely an advantage in a water polo game.”
There are marked differences, however, between swimming for speed and swimming for water polo, which may pose a challenge for the team to overcome.
O’Shea said, “The hard part is trying to teach a swimmer how not to swim like a swimmer. There is a completely different style of swimming in water polo. Trying to teach that and trying to adapt their strokes can be a little bit tough.”
Even though the team did not have any preseason training, it has a significant amount of time to prepare before its first match.
O’Shea said, “We have pretty much a full two weeks of practices ahead of the first game, so it’s not like in past years where I had three days of practice and then a match. I don’t think [not having a preseason] is going to affect us”.
The team will hit the pool for its first matches on April 4, hosting Williston, Exeter and Loomis, looking to start off its quest to Championships on a high note.