Despite last season’s entire starting lineup graduating this past spring, the Wilcox Chargers Water Polo team looked as strong as ever to start the new season. On Tuesday the Chargers cruised to a 14-4 victory on the road against Milpitas. The score was 14-2 until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The question was posed to first-year Head Coach Jake Paolinetti, which was more impressive, scoring 14 or holding them to two goals most of the match?
“Definitely keeping them to two,” answered the Wilcox coach. “Our defense was really good. It’s the best I’ve seen the defense since the start of practices this summer. I was really impressed by our defense.”
Junior Marisa Lipari concurred with her coach on the defensive performance being noteworthy, but also praised the offensive attack.
“I think it was good that we were able to hold them to two and score 14,” said Lipari. “We played really well defensively, better than I expected and I’m really proud of that, but also we were able to transition to offense, be aware of our surroundings and take good shots.”
One of the standout defensive plays came from the game’s leading scorer in sophomore Justine Garcia. Not only did Garcia score half her team’s goals (seven), she prevented her opponent from scoring on the power play right in front of the Chargers goal.
“The fact that she’s a sophomore and recognizes the need to still play hard, despite the score, is impressive,” remarked coach Paolinetti on Garcia. “Especially performing like that this early in the season.”
“People are playing hard. Justine is really good considering she is still an underclassman,” chimed senior Juliana Hartley. “She’s a fast swimmer, brings a lot to our team at both ends.”
Whenever Milpitas did manage to get a clean shot off the Chargers defense, goalkeeper Kaitlyn Wang was up to the task.
“She didn’t give them much to shoot at,” noted coach Paolinetti on his goalie. “And my number one rule with her is that if she touches it, she blocks it. She’s really taken that to heart ever since the summertime. She did really well today.”
“Kaitlyn did awesome, I’m really proud of her, this is her first year playing on varsity,” added Lipari. “She’s doing really well for us.”
The coach noted that Hartley and Lipari as being two of the more upbeat, positive leaders. Hartley noted that the win was big to get off to a good start considering the roster turnover.
“It was impressive that we scored 14 goals being our first game,” said Hartley. “Last season we lost all of our seniors, which was all of our starters. It was nice to see us come together as a team and be able to perform well for our first game. It puts us in good spirits going into the rest of the season.”
Wilcox will look to improve to 2-0 when they host Saratoga on Thursday.