Andover Boys Water Polo faltered 8-9 against Loomis Chaffee before beating Hopkins 12-8 in New Haven on Saturday. The doubleheader set the team’s record at 1-1.
Fueled by the energy of the captains and the addition of new players to the team, the team was able to score 20 goals across both games, 12 of which were scored by Co-Captain Neil Simpson ’19.
“Even when [Simpson] was right outside the very corner of the cage with a defender on his back and the goalie right in front of him, he managed to put the ball into the net,” said Co-Captain Eric Osband ’19.
Osband continued, “Sam Donchi [’20] also played extremely well and earned four goals of his own. He also kept his head up and always looked to make a pass, even when his defender was trying to push him underwater. Max Hunger [’20] also had a great first two games of his career, and even during the games picked up some new skills to steal the ball from the other team.”
Donchi said, “I think Neil and Eric, the captains, both played well. As leaders on the team, I think they did a good job of keeping the energy up, which is hard in a doubleheader. They are both really experienced, and scored a lot.”
Along with Hunger, the team also welcomes many new players after having no new underclassman players last year.
Simpson said, “Our rookies really made a big difference on Saturday. Arnold Su ’20, Beckett McKee ’22, [Hunger], and Theo Faugeres ’21 all got in the pool and made big plays. Theo made [maybe] 16 saves on the day, which absolutely gave us a shot at winning.”
The team looks to improve on communication, hopes to capitalize on their successful teamwork and offensive skills, according to Osband.
Donchi added, “Our offense wasn’t [too bad], considering we’ve only had two weeks of practice, and we haven’t worked on it a ton either. We haven’t scrimmaged a ton in practice, so every quarter we [improved on] playing with each other, and we had more chemistry as a team going into the second game — more [so] than the first.”
Against Loomis, the team struggled in the first half against four strong players, which allowed Loomis to build a lead in the beginning of the game. The team performed better in the second half but failed to completely catch up, according to Donchi.
Going into the second game, the team worked to quickly identify and guard Hopkins’ strongest player.
Donchi said, “In the second game [against Hopkins], they only had one [player] that kept scoring. We noticed it early, so we stopped him from scoring early on, which helped us win. We put the more experience players defending him so we didn’t have mismatch on defense.”
Though the team worked on handling aggressive defense during practice, the players will continue to work at applying those skills during games, according to Osband and Simpson.
Osband said, “We will and are working on protecting the ball and our leg strength, because we will be playing in an all-deep pool rather than half-shallow, half-deep.”
Simpson added, “Without a doubt, our defense was severely lacking… We need to make sure we are all on the same page on defense, and not being too aggressive. Although attacking on defense can mean stealing the ball, it also risks giving the opponents a free shot on goal.”
Despite graduating most of its starting players, the team chemistry is looking very strong, according to Osband.
Donchi added, “It’s still early in the season, but it seems like we have a lot of potential. [The new players] are all excited and willing to learn and try hard.”
The team will face Deerfield and Canterbury away this Saturday.