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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

BOYS WATER POLO PREVIEW: Lancers aim to qualify for CIF playoffs again

Utility+player+junior+Aidan+Sarreal+throws+the+ball+in+the+Sunny+Hills+pool+during+the+team%E2%80%99s+practice+on+Wednesday%2C+Aug.+30.+The+Lancers+will+play+their+first+Freeway+League+match+against+Sonora+High+School+on+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+20%2C+at+La+Habra+High+School.
Asaph Li
Utility player junior Aidan Sarreal throws the ball in the Sunny Hills pool during the team’s practice on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The Lancers will play their first Freeway League match against Sonora High School on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at La Habra High School.

Coaches: Keith Nighswonger (head coach), Jordan Jaime (assistant coach)

Top Returning Players: Matthew Barboza (12), Ben Blodgett (12), Zach Garcia (12), Evan Hsu (12), Brandon Koh (12), Dylan Loh (12), Abhijit Sipahimalani (12)

Top Newcomers: Rowan Darrah (11), Ricardo Garcia (11), Dante Gelles (10), Thomas Oltman (10)

Last Season: The boys water polo team placed fifth in the Freeway League with a 1-6 record (15-15 overall). Nevertheless, the Lancers qualified for CIF playoffs for the first time since 2018 but fell short in the second round to Simi Valley’s Royal High School by one point with a final score of 11-10.

Outlook: The Lancers hope to qualify for CIF again this year and finish among the top three teams in the league, if not take the league title which hasn’t happened since 2014.

“I can see by the work the boys were putting in and how fired up they were at the end of last season that everything they did was going to culminate this season,” Jaime said. “We’re very excited to see the boys play more and what they can do.”

The assistant coach said he plans on building upon the team’s weaknesses from last year – like a lack of communication – making changes to and implementing new offensive and defensive  strategies.

“We’re spending a lot of time working on making good passes because you can’t score goals without good passes,” he said. 

The team focuses on developing game strategies that revolve around their speed, agility and mental quickness rather than brute strength during its practices, Jaime said. 

“Sometimes you get physically exhausted before you get mentally exhausted,” he said. “So I think as long as we can keep it together, keep our wits together, play together, then it’s going to be hard to find a team that will give them a run for their money.”

Stepping into his final year on the team, utility player Blodgett said he hopes to improve his game tactics and strengthen his awareness and mindset.

“I think that awareness to what is happening around you is key,” he said. “You should know when a shot is taken so you can go on to defense or onto offense.”

Junior utility player Kastuv Aryal said he plans to approach this season with a strong mindset.

“I’m most excited to be spending time with my teammates and winning games,” he said. “I really want to win more tournaments, and I think we have the best chance this year; I just look forward to qualifying for CIF and being the league champions.”

Blodgett said he also looks forward to defeating rival teams such as Troy, La Habra and Fullerton high schools.

“I feel pretty confident because this summer season we beat La Habra twice, and we also beat Fullerton,” the senior said. “They move around a lot so staying on them and calling switches so they don’t get the opportunity to shoot or anything.”

Jaime said he has decided not to nominate any captains on the team this year, believing the position is unnecessary with the team’s overall strong sense of leadership.

“I think not having captains has helped our teamwork skills as a whole,” Blodgett said. “There is no superior rank player, it’s only the players and the coaches.”

With a current non-league record of 9-3, Jaime said he feels the team is prepared after their long hours and hard work spent in the pool.

The Lancers will play their first Freeway League game of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. against Sonora High School at La Habra High School’s pool because the Raiders’ one still remains under construction.

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Troy Yang
Troy Yang, Staff Reporter
Sophomore Troy Yang was a Journalism 1 student in his freshman year, still learning about the basics of journalism and not even knowing what a feature story is. However, this year, he is now on The Accolade as a staff reporter. Outside of The Accolade, Yang takes all honor classes and Advanced Placement classes. Yang hopes to be promoted to an editor position by the end of the school year.
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