Fresh Faces Look to Make an Impact

Rough start: The Regals went winless in the Tina Finali Invitational against higher division opponents.(Above) Sophomore Logan Young looks to put a shot on goal against Azusa Pacific on Feb. 27.

Regals water polo is back in the pool and looking to take the season by storm.

With many new faces eager to perform, the team is looking to improve upon last years finish.

Last year the Regals finished the season at 10-21, while finishing 6-5 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, securing a winning SCIAC season for the ninth straight year.

Head coach Craig Rond is entering his 12th season coaching the Regals and is confident and optimistic in the team’s growth so far this year.

“We know that we have a little bit of work to do on offense,” Rond said. “Definitely our strength right now is on the defensive side. We have a very good goalie and we’re pretty smart.”

With nine incoming freshmen and three transfers joining the team this year, many would think the groups cohesion would be lacking, but the Regals coaching staff is adamant in how cohesive the group is starting to become.

“We have great team chemistry, and we have good leadership.The newcomers have bought in and I’m really pleased with the cohesion of the group,” Coach Rond said.

“Whenever you have a lot of new faces you would think that your team chemistry wouldn’t be as good as it is right now,” assistant coach Cody Pletcher said.

The team also sees this cohesion as well.

“Our team cohesion is really good right now. We’re getting along really well, and our attitudes going into the games has really helped,” junior goalkeeper Gina Merry said.

Merry is coming off of a stellar 2014 campaign in which she set the school record with 280 saves in a single season.

With the large amount of new faces, the work put in by the team during the off-season was critical in building a foundation upon which the team could succeed.

“In the fall we had six weeks of training in the pool, and we do weight lifting pretty much all semester,” Merry said. “It’s good for preseason, seeing the new people and going into the semester knowing everybody and knowing who’s good at what.”

“We have a lot to bring to the table, and right now its about progressing toward getting to the best we can be before SCIAC,” sophomore center defender Logan Young said.

From Feb. 27-March 1, the Regals hosted the Inaugural Tina Finali Invitational, where they competed against Division I,II, III and NAIA programs such as California State University, Monterey Bay; Santa Clara; Sonoma State; California State University, Bakersfield and Villanova.

The Regals struggled in the pool during the tournament, but showed flashes of excellence and improvement in their play.

“I think we have a lot of improvements to make but I think by the time SCIAC comes around, with the games we’ve played, we’ll be able to improve a lot and do better,” junior utility player Amanda Jones said.

The Regals are currently 1-7, but despite the rough start this season, the team continues to push forward and build upon the positives rather than focusing on the negatives.

“Right now we have to work on confidence, playing the game confidently and not so much worrying about making a mistake but really focusing on making a great play,” Rond said. “Everybody is going to make some mistakes along the way, but just play the game and don’t focus on the mistakes more than you’re focused on doing great things.”

The Regals begin SCIAC play on March 21, where they will host Chapman at 11 a.m. at the Samuelson Aquatics Center. The team will play each conference opponent once before heading into the SCIAC championships on April 25-27.

Joe Dalecio
Staff Writer
Published March 4th, 2015