Extreme water polo makeover in the pool
A wet and wild high school water polo season continues with the recent start of league play.
Oakmont lost seven seniors from the squad that went 20-10 overall and 9-1 in the Capital Valley Conference in 2010. Oakmont has been a tough competitor on the boys’ side, and the Vikings (3-5) seek another stellar season but might be hindered by a lack of experience, coach Mark Plank said.
“We have very few players play water polo for more than the high school season,” he said. “Our development is far behind most other teams in this region.”
Goalies Austin Call, a senior, and sophomore Matt Mason will be called on to help shut down opponents. Plank expects All-CVC returners Nate Welch and Stephen Barocio to have a major impact in the field.
The Oakmont girls team is on the other side of the coin, bringing back eight players.
“Our strengths are the number of players returning with experience due to playing club water polo and swimming over the summer,” coach Casey Cornilsen said. “We also have a great defense, led by our goalie, Natalie Barentson.”
Coach Grant Guensler has his hands full coaching the boys and girls. His boys team is huge with 20 on the varsity roster.
“We don’t really have that one marquee player that’s going to set 2-meter that everybody in league is going to know who he is,” Guensler said. “They’re pretty much going to have to guard all my guys.”
Guensler said his prediction was that Woodcreek would be in the hunt for second or third place behind Granite Bay in the Sierra Foothill League.
The girls team saw a drop in the number of players coming out for their senior and junior seasons, Guensler said.
“It’s put us in an interesting situation as far as who’s going to be playing in what holes,” he said.
Goalie Danielle DeBoer and field player Samantha Whitecotton are going to be called upon to lead the Timberwolves.
Granite Bay’s boys have had a major makeover after losing 11 seniors and nearly every starter. The team isn’t nearly as fast this season, coach John MacLeane said.
Another hurdle has been a late start due to a few athletes competing in a Junior Olympics program.
“We are a completely brand new team with everyone playing brand new positions,” MacLeane said. “I don’t think we’re favored. I think we’re one of the favored teams.”
The girls team has a new coach in Genna Masters, who attended Roseville High School and was on the swim and water polo teams. She coached Oakmont’s JV boys last season and coaches a club team.
“We are very strong defensively, and we have done really well stealing the ball and being able to counterattack from that steal,” Masters said. “Our counterattack offense is strong, since we have some quick swimmers and strong shooters.”
Roseville also is rebuilding, coach Brad Molina said.
The Tigers started 2-4 and hope to work out the kinks as the season progresses.
“Our goal is to … see if we can get a winning record overall,” said Molina, who sees Bear River, Del Oro and Granite Bay as its biggest competition. “Our secondary goal is to … beat one of the top teams.”
The Roseville girls have a new coach in Emily Dobbs. She said the team is young, and only 10 players return between varsity and JV.
“We have the opportunity to build a solid foundation for the coming years,” Dobbs said. “Our main focus is working toward fine-tuning our fundamentals.”
Roseville has work to put in after an early 22-4 SFL loss to Nevada Union.