The women’s water polo team has high expectations for the 2017 season. Several players returned from last season, giving the women the chemistry they need to compete in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this year.
The athletes already have a great bond because only two players graduated last year.
Last season, the team made history finishing second in the SCIAC tournament where they lost to Whittier, 17-12. They also beat four NCAA Division I teams to top off a great season.
La Verne finished last season 8-3 in SCIAC play and 18-6 overall.
After knowing what it is like to play in a championship game, the women are ready to fight this season.
Co-head coach Mason Cox is preparing the women to do what it takes to win.
“Plain and simple, our goal is to win SCIAC,” Cox said.
“It was a huge accomplishment just going to the finals. Everyone had a taste of what it was like to be in the finals and they have a bad taste after losing. This season there is a huge change in practice. The girls are focused on winning. Now they know we have a legitimate shot at winning the championship,” he said.
After not playing water polo for seven years, senior center defender Stephanie Rosero was not expecting to have as great of a season as she did last year, but she still plans to switch some techniques and grow this season.
“I knew how out of shape I was, but the team was awesome and we connected really well,” Rosero said. “Towards the end we were all on the same page, and we thought we were going to win. We got so close, but that just made us hungrier for this year.”
Senior left wing Ardelle Aquino also wants to make this season better than the last.
“It’s my last season ever of playing water polo,” Aquino said. “I would like to make a bigger presence on the team. I want to be a better leader and get better at my position.”
Erika Vargas, co-head coach of the women’s team, said she wants the players to understand that they had a great season last year.
That does not mean success will just be handed to them this year.
“Last year we made history, but this season’s goal is to win it. The girls are hungry, they’re driven, and they’re working harder than they ever have before,” Vargas said.
“My goal is to get them to their max potential. To get those seniors that ring that have been here all four years and go out with a bang.”
The Leopards are currently 2-1 in non-conference play.
They will participate in the Claremont Convergence Tournament, facing Azusa Pacific at 10 a.m. Friday and Cal State Monterey Bay at 3 p.m. Next they will play Fresno Pacific at 8 a.m. and UC Santa Barbara at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Leopards open SCIAC play against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 11 a.m. March 18.
La Verne’s home opener is against Cal Lutheran at 4 p.m. March 22.
Shavonne Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.