After returning on Sept. 15 from The Bruno Fall Invitational hosted by Brown University, the Kingsmen water polo team is ready for anything that may come their way this season.
During the tournament, the Kingsmen were up against seven Division I teams, some of which are part of the top 10 teams in the nation such as the United States Naval Academy and St. Francis University.
“The tournament was a great experience for the athletes,” said Craig Rond, head coach of the Kingsmen water polo team. “It was a very challenging competition and we got better in each game we played.”
Although the team is now 3-8, during the tournament, they gained victories over MIT and Connecticut College.
“I think we are doing some great things in the water,” Rond said. “Our win-loss record may not reflect success, but we have played 7 of our 9 games against Division I and II programs. We are undefeated against Division III foes.”
Rond said that the team lost three all-American players this season. However, they gained some “very talented young players.” Among these players includes a new goalie named Jesse Owen, a recent transfer student from Riverside City College.
Owen played for RCC in 2006 and 2007. He took a few years off school and then went back to RCC to be eligible to transfer to a different school.
“I came to CLU because my experience on a visit was wonderful,” Owen said. “My first impression of the school and coaches was great, so I really had no doubt in my mind what my number one school choice was.”
Owen had 12 saves in the win over MIT. He also played the entire 32-minute game.
The team has gained quite a number of new players, according to senior Max Zappas, a returning player for the Kingsmen.
“The team’s first goal is to get everyone on board with the new system and to begin building chemistry in and out of the pool,” Zappas said.
The team’s conditioning schedule during the week usually consists of seven workouts in the water and two weight-training sessions in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.
“We are running a new defense this year, so that has been taking up most of our time during practices,” Zappas said. “It’s a very active, fast defense that keeps the center position covered at all times and keeps outside shooters off rhythm. We executed it amazingly in Rhode Island and we are looking forward to using it on some more Division III teams.”
According to Rond, the Kingsmen’s biggest competition this season will be games against Pomona, Redlands, Claremont and Whittier.
“A SCIAC title is the biggest goal for our team, but even above that would be to make it into the NCAA tournament and upset a Division I team,” Zappas said.
The Kingsmen participated in the California Baptist Tournament this past weekend and split the two games, beating Occidental 10-9 and losing to California Baptist 8-14. CLU will host their first home games of the season tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. as they take on Concordia College and Cerritos Community College, respectively.
Published Sept. 25, 2013