Although the Seawolves fell short against Cal State Monterey Bay last Sunday, Sonoma State’s water polo team is poised to bounce back and qualify for the Western Water Polo Quarterfinals this spring. The team ended their 2018 season on a strong note, finishing third in their division. Now with a 5-8 record, the Seawolves hope to better execute in their next contest while continuing to develop their team chemistry. Senior team captain, Taylor Brooks, is confident her team will have another shot at the WWPA championship if the team continues to focus on their strengths and weaknesses.
“We definitely want to have a winning record and are set on making it to the championship game of the WWPAs,” explained Brooks. “We also want to grow as a team and create good team chemistry. We have a lot of young girls on the team so building is going to be huge in a couple of years.”
The water polo team has undergone many lineup adjustments as a result of graduating players. Losing seniors can always cause setbacks in any college sport, however, Brooks and her team have faith in their younger players. While each teammate brings something different to the table, everyone is capable of overcoming their obstacles.
“We did well last season, but not as good as we had hoped,” the team captain Brooks said. “We went through a lot of changes last year and it become tough to manage everything. This team is very close and I think this year is by far the best we’ve had dynamic wise.”
While the team has a surge of incoming freshman and transfer players this season, it will be crucial for the team to identify their weaknesses early on. In addition to facing injuries and other health complications throughout the season, the water polo players also set team goals.
“We are focussing a lot on protecting the ball to prevent turnovers and continuing to execute plays during offensive possessions,” Brooks said. “We played in a tournament down in LA and won 3 out of 4 games. We set goals for ourselves and made sure we accomplished them in the most efficient way possible.”
A young team often presents a few obstacles, but the Seawolves proved they can win once they recognize their weaknesses and overcome their challenges in the pool. Players of the water polo team also have their own individual goals as they ultimately look to improve their game. Kelly Failner, also a senior captain on the team, expressed her personal goals in a post-game interview on Sunday.
“I had a decent game and I had a lot of fun,” said Failner. “This is my last season so I’m really looking to enjoy it and make sure my teammates are having a memorable time as well.”
As Failner finishes her final year on the team, she hopes the team can successfully transition their freshman into key role players. While the team looks to train harder, everyone must continue to contribute offensively.
“As a captain my goal is to make sure the team is continuously growing together and building on each other,” Failner said. “Being a threat on offense has always been a challenge for me. I will really push myself this season and help out my team in that area.”
The team is struggling with substitutions as a result of graduating seniors and injuries. While water polo is a very physically demanding sport, Failner and her teammates must continue executing and communicating on defense while continuing to focus on their offensive game. Once in an offensive groove, the Seawolves should expect to qualify for the postseason.