Despite its 14-10 loss against Choate this Saturday, Andover Boys Water Polo left the pool proud of the game they had played. Its record now stands at 3-6.
With the knowledge that Choate was a fierce team, the team was determined to play its best game. Co-Captain Trey Wolfe ’23 highlighted the motivated and optimistic mindset that the team carried going into and out of the challenging matchup.
“We were expecting a good, tough game. And I think as a team, that’s our favorite kind of game. Everybody loves winning, but playing a good team, where you can really push yourself and get creative, those are always the best games and I think we really rose to the occasion. So even though we didn’t come out winning, it was definitely closer than it should have been. I think, sure, it definitely felt that way. And we walked away feeling like winners,” said Wolfe.
Against Choate, Nick Donaldson ’23 noticed a dramatic improvement in the team’s non-verbal communication. From the beginning of the season, bonds have strengthened between teammates, not only creating a positive atmosphere outside the pool, but also, enhancing the level of play during games.
“I was talking about how we were disconnected at the beginning of the year in terms of our chemistry in the pool. Something we were excelling at a lot in that Choate game was reading each other without the use of words, so passes were made that I feel like we’ve improved on a lot in this point of the season that we weren’t making in the beginning of the season. We were taking shots for each other at the specific time that we should, which normally we wouldn’t have in the past. We were driving a lot, which we hadn’t been in the past. I feel like we have improved a lot with our communication without the use of words,” said Donaldson.
Although communication has improved, Wolfe believes the team still needs to work on establishing a strong, consistent defensive foundation. In preparation for upcoming games, the team will rely on film to identify weaknesses in its defense that have allowed for the opposing team to dominate early into the games.
Wolfe said, “I think one of one of our biggest issues at the start of the game was first getting kind of burned on defense…. We’re going to watch the game film on Wednesday just so players can see it because when you’re in the pool playing field it’s really hard to see everything that’s happening. I get a bit of a different view from the goal, but we’ll be able to look at the film and just see where we’re lacking on defense. And once we figure that out, we’re gonna be pretty unstoppable.”
Going into the game, the team was focused on its counterattacks. Rather than clearing the ball, the team wanted to formulate smooth transitions from its defensive to its offensive possession, according to Ryan Chandor ’23.
“We were on defense and really just pushing out as fast as we can getting set up. Getting our offense working, moving the ball around as fast as you can, keeping the ball dry. And then in practice, as well as working on counter attacks, we’ve focused a lot on spacing in five-on-six. So whenever there’s a man down, there’s a certain way to set up in water polo for man down just like in hockey. And really, again, just working on keeping the ball drive,” said Chandor.
Now halfway through their season, the team has adapted well to their new Head Coach, Howie Kalter. According to Chandor, Kalter is always eager to share his extensive knowledge of the sport, and Kalter takes his contributions one step farther by being an example in the pool.
“I think that the knowledge that Coach Kalter has, because he was a professional water polo player, the things that he adds in practice really helps out a lot. And then as well as that, he does get in the water a lot which is super helpful. Actually showing us how to do certain moves, how to really work the ball around all that type of stuff. He’s a great coach, like I said, super knowledgeable. I feel like he’s really, really bringing in knowledge about the sport that we didn’t have before,” said Chandor.
Andover Boys Water Polo will host a double-header against Loomis Chaffee and Brunswick on Saturday and face Suffield Academy away on Wednesday.