By Staff Writer Nithika Valluri
On May 26, MSJ Girls and Boys Varsity Water Polo each won their first game of the season against the Moreau Catholic High School Mariners. This game was an incredible achievement for both teams, especially for the boys who finally broke their losing streak after last year’s 0-17 season. Girls won with a final score of 12-5 and boys won 22-13, both teams advancing to a record of 1-4.
In the girls game, the Mariners scored the first goal, but Co-Captain Senior Hasika Sridhar scored three points shortly after, two of which were penalty shots, giving the Warriors an early lead. Goalkeeper Senior Sanjana Narayanan blocked many of the Mariner’s shots, and the Warriors led 7-3 after the first half of the game.
Freshman Kira Clark started strong in the second half, scoring two of the three goals in the third quarter. Sridhar said, “Kira’s a really good defender. She had a lot of amazing steals and is genuinely a really amazing player, so I think there’s a great future for her in the sport and for our team.” In the fourth quarter, the Warriors scored two more goals, securing the win.
Following the girls’ victory, the boys began their game dominating with many blocks and counter attacks in the first quarter. Throughout the game, Sophomore Justin Gore and Junior Kasper Lau did a stellar job of guarding the Mariner’s center player, helping maintain a consistent lead at the end of each quarter. Making up nearly half of the team’s points with five goals and six assists, Co-Captain Junior Rupin Kumar also played exceptionally well and helped lead the team to a 22-13 win — their first victory in almost two years.
Throughout the season, both Boys and Girls Water Polo players have encountered many unprecedented challenges that have affected their practices, games, and skill sets. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Varsity teams were allowed to compete during the season. They were also limited to competing within their leagues and will not have MVALs or NCS this season. Girls Water Polo Coach Juan Angel Madrigal said, “That has one of the bigger impacts because those are really big learning experiences for us. Obviously the more time we get in the water in an active game setting [is something] you can’t get elsewhere.” Additionally, Sridhar said, “A lot of our newer players haven’t had the chance to develop the fundamentals because it’s such a short season. We’re just going game to game focusing on what’s the best thing we can do for that game.”
Going forward, Madrigal believes the girls need to mainly focus on their communication skills during the game to get more drives in on offense. Sridhar said, “We all need a little boost in our self confidence and in our own abilities.”
Compared to last year’s Boys Varsity Water Polo team, where 10 out of the 14 players were playing for the first time, the team is more experienced this year. However, Boys Water Polo Coach Alex Tang said, “[This year] is a bit of an improvement I guess, but [we are still] significantly less experienced [than other teams]. It still bites us in our games, like you can see when things get really chaotic.”
Reflecting on the boys’ overall performance this season, Tang believes their biggest weakness is defensive rebounding, which will be at the top of the players’ minds as they head into future games. Co-Captain Senior Liem Nguyen said, “When some of our players are setting up, they get bottlenecked by our communication. But once we work on that, I feel like we’ll be pretty unstoppable.”