Panther Water Polo finished the 2019 season last weekend at the annual South Coast Conference Tournament, defeating Rio Hondo and falling to #2 Cerritos to claim the 6hth place conference position.
Head Coach Laura Kocsis summed up her first season:
Towards the end of season everything we had been working on started to come together and each game we played better and better. We finished off regular season play with a great game against Mt. SAC and was ready to take on conference even though we knew we would start out with a top seed team.
Our improvement showed through being able to put away 3 more and allowing less goals against Cerritos compared to the first time we played them this season. Even though we started with a loss, we were able to take away the positives and came out with a strong 6-0 lead against Rio Hondo for our second game. We played great defense for four quarters and a number of our players stepped up offensively; I could tell that our team was hungry to take "revenge" for that 4-15 loss back in October. Everyone was positive the whole game, communication was consistent and everyone was pushing herself from the first whistle to the last.
The second day of conference we faced ELAC to play for 5th place. Unfortunately we were not able to maintain the "hype" we had against Rio Hondo and even though we had a 3 goal lead going into the second half (6-3), we quickly gave up two goals which gave the push to ELAC to come back. At 9-9 we made a defensive mistake and they were able to score a goal which after we were not able to find the back of the net to push the game to overtime.
vs Rio Hondo I would like to highlight the performance of our goalie, Aria Massey who really stepped up and was a "brick wall" in our cage and Antonette Hensley who did a phenomenal job taking Rio Hondo's center players out of the game.
If a tournament MVP award could be given to someone on our team, it would go to Allena Valadez who finished all three games with impressive stats both on offense and defense.
We definitely had our ups and downs this season, but Coach Brooke and myself are very proud of our team! Every single one of them improved a ton and most importantly, set a very high standard and such a foundation for the team which we can start to build a very successful program on.