By Alexandra Cannady |Staff Writer|
Water polo began their season Jan. 29 with two losses against Whittier College and University of Redlands.
Captain Misty Vu was a bright spot for the Coyotes as she led them in scoring with three goals during the match against Whittier and one goal against Redlands.
Vu made her goals in the first two periods against Whittier, keeping the Coyotes in the game as they faced a one goal deficit. Whittier used a strong third quarter to pull away, scoring four goals in the period. Vu and senior Shelle Kocher made one goal apiece against the Redlands Bulldogs, but the team as a faced a 3-2 deficit after the first quarter.
The Bulldogs then pulled away outscoring the Coyotes 8-1 for the remainder of the game.
Though down, they showed that they were definitely not out.
“I feel the rest of the season will be much better, we know what we need to do to win,” said Vu.
Coach Sarah Reneker still has high expectations for her squad.
“Now that we got our first game jitters out of the way, our intensity level needs to come up,” said Reneker. The team was able to set up their offense well but there was still some confusion and little communication according to Reneker.
“Our defense needs some work, we are concentrating on the cage and our goalies to solve the problem,” continued Reneker.
Freshman Madison Morris had nine saves in the cage against Redlands.
“I was very impressed with our freshman teammates. They really stepped up,” said Vu.
Freshman players Sophie Smith and Mckenzie Kelly both were successful in scoring during the game against Whittier. Kelly was able to score one goal and Smith was able to score twice. Reneker increased her roster this season from only 12 to 20 women.
This change was helpful after facing some major setbacks during their latest matches. Starter Shelle Kocher was injured and unable to contribute much to the team.
There were also two other players who were ineligible to participate in the games. “This hindered us but we were able to take players from our bench and rely on their ability to finish plays in the game,” said Reneker.
Not only did the large roster help replace players, but it also provided much needed rest time for the starters according to Reneker.
The four hour practices every day from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. will consist of the same routine.
“Repetition and execution is definitely what we need,” continued Reneker. The Coyotes will also be focusing on reducing laziness, improving their techniques and increasing their overall intensity during practice and games according to Reneker. “This was a preview of our season. It helps us focus on what we need to improve on,” continued Reneker.
Reneker expects her squad to now come together and grow every week for the remainder of the season. Water polo has a long season ahead of them, expect them to bounce back and make the adjustments necessary to become a complete, competitive squad.