With an extremely young team of nearly all underclassmen, Lancers girls water polo comes into this season with an inexperienced yet passionate group.
Carrying only one senior on the team this year, the program has shifted its focus on to player development and team building, rather than a “win now” mentality.
“This year, our focus is to grow and bond as a group, and just have fun,” said Sophomore left attacker Keely Kelsey.
Wins against out-of-league schools, such as Louisville and Foothill Tech, have shown that the team has a fair amount of talent to build on into the future, and molding this young group of players into a winning team for the following years is the priority for the program right now.
“They are all very eager to learn from each other” said head coach Antonio Pereles. “[They’ve] had a lot of time with each other [outside] the pool so that definitely helps a lot.”
Along with skill development, the coaching staff knows it is vital to build strong bonds between the players, and it seems to be one of the main strengths of this year’s team.
“[Our] team’s biggest strength is [the] bond we have with each other,” said Kelsey. “For us being together as a team for the little amount of time we’ve had, it’s crazy how close we all are.
The team chemistry was there from the beginning, many of the players having played with each other on club teams before high school, and the completely new players quickly building bonds with the rest of the team.
Although this year’s team lack of experience may not make them a dominating powerhouse team in the league right now, the players look at their young core of talent as an upside, rather than an obstacle.
“The majority of our team this year is very new,” said Kelsey. “Which is awesome because we need to start growing and rebuilding the girls [water polo] program.”
Despite the heavy focus this season on rebuilding and development, the competitive nature of the Marmonte league leaves no team out of the conversation for a successful season, or even a league title.
“The goal is [to be] at least third in our rank,” said Pereles. “We need to focus on winning games [against] Calabasas and Westlake so we can be in the playoffs.”
The team knows it will not be easy, but the determination and passion to win, along with a young core of talented players and the moldability of an inexperienced team leaves Lancers girls water polo in a pretty favorable spot for years to come.
With each and every new year, this team will develop further and further, as the program looks to cement themselves as one of the powerhouse programs in the Marmonte league in the next couple of years.
Keep and eye out for this young and talented team, as they are focused on becoming one of Thousand Oaks’ sports to watch in the future.
Their next game is on December 14th.