Senior day success for polo

Still alive: Senior David Sparks and the rest of the Kingsmen won their last home game of the season on Nov. 16. Photo by Arianna Cook - Staff Photographer
Still alive: Senior David Sparks and the rest of the Kingsmen won their last home game of the season on Nov. 16.
Photo by Arianna Cook – Staff Photographer

The California Lutheran University men’s water polo team proved their prowess on Nov. 16 at the Samuelson Aquatics Center as they ended the season with a 16-9 victory over Occidental College.

Although the Kingsmen maintained the strength they’ve shown the entire season, the game began a little more sentimental.

The six graduating seniors David Sparks, Conrad Sheffer, Max Zappas, Derrick Graham, Spencer McGrath and Hunter Hamaker were honored before the game. Each player’s bio was read describing the games they have played in, their value to the team and their award winning achievements.

In an email interview, Head Coach Craig Rond described the seniors as “great guys that have really become great Kingsmen” and hopes that “the seniors will look with fond memories of all the fun times they had traveling and spending time with friends.”

After recognizing and congratulating the six Kingsmen, the game began with CLU taking charge. The Kingsmen gained control of the ball at the beginning of the first quarter and kept their defense and offense strong. They ended the quarter 5-2 after multiple shots on goal from both teams.

During the second quarter, the Kingsmen showed their teamwork as they passed around Occidental’s defense, succeeding in scoring another four goals. Center forward Hamaker impressed the crowd as he lobbed the ball around his shoulder to score one of the goals. The game got testy as an Occidental player became aggressive with both the Kingsmen and the watching fans, and was eventually yellow carded and taken out of the game.

The Kingsmen came out strong again in the second half of the game, although the two teams volleyed back and forth with scoring goals. The Kingsmen stepped ahead as junior attacker Nathan Ortega scored, putting an end to Occidental’s scoring run in the third quarter.

The Kingsmen wrapped up the fourth quarter with utility Zappas bouncing the ball off the water and into the goal, and junior attacker Mike Arteaga successfully scored, as well. The game ended 16-9 and the Kingsmen moved into sixth place in SCIAC.

Rond said their “defense was as good [in this game] as its been all year” while Zappas thought their “counter attack [was] the best [he’s] seen in [his] four years here [at CLU].”
McGrath was “stoked that a lot of friends and family came out for the game” because it gave them momentum for the playoffs.

The Kingsmen will continue competing in SCIAC on Nov. 22 at Chapman University against the Redlands Bulldogs, however for some of the seniors, the SCIAC competition isn’t their last interaction with water polo.

Both McGrath and Zappas plan on continuing to play after they graduate from college. Zappas has been talking with a league in Argentina, while McGrath hopes to go down to Australia to play and hopefully, with the time difference, the 6 a.m. morning practices (which McGrath claims are the worst part of water polo) won’t seem so bad.

“The team was great this year,” Zappas said. “We came together and fell into the system a little later but the team is looking really strong and I’m looking forward to the SCIAC tournament.”


Danya Migdali
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 20, 2013