The Wilcox water polo team didn’t win on Tuesday — they lost 11-5 against a tough Harker squad. However, the rebuilding Chargers have developed quickly under first-year Head Coach Jake Paolinetti. Despite losing their entire starting lineup from last season to graduation, the Chargers have managed a 5-9 record in league thus far. In the process, the squad has beaten multiple teams in the second half of the season whom they had lost to in the first half.
“In the season, we play each team twice, a first round and a second round. And so far, we have been doing much better in our second round,” remarked senior captain Juliana Hartley. “I think that’s because we have gotten better at communicating as a team. We beat Monta Vista last Friday after losing to them before, and it feels good to see that progress as a team.”
Not only did Wilcox beat Monta Vista 9-6 after losing to them 13-9, they also beat Lynbrook 10-7 after losing to them by that score earlier in the season. Not to mention the second game against their rival Santa Clara Bruins was much closer at 11-9 compared to the 15-9 score in the first meeting.
“I think we’ve made huge progress,” concurred fellow senior captain Marisa Lipari. “At the beginning, we weren’t really gelling as a team. A lot of the girls have really developed the skills needed to play at this level and we look a lot better now.”
When asked on a scale of 1-10 how well the rebuild has gone for his team, coach Paolinetti didn’t hesitate with his answer of eight.“I’d say an eight, it feels like every team we’ve played a second time, we have beaten them,” remarked the head coach. “You can’t ask for anything more when you lose to the team the first time and then beat them the second time around.”
While the second match with Harker wasn’t the outcome the Chargers were hoping for, sophomore Justine Garcia finished the game with a hat trick. Her three goals included a buzzer beating shot just after the whistle to start play and a breakaway goal on a nice pass from Jacklyn Quach.
“She’s really quick and, as a sophomore, she’s doing really well,” said Lipari on Garcia. “By next year and the year after she will only continue to get even better.”
“Justine is our sprinter and she can dominate as a shooter with her strong arm,” added Hartley. “She’s good at getting into position as a whole set, which is a position that scores a lot of the goals, so she’s big presence to have out there for us.”
The Chargers have one more game remaining on the schedule. They will take on Milpitas on Thursday, Oct. 18 at home. Wilcox previously beat the Trojans 14-4 in the season opener.