Water polo women battle top-tier teams

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California Baptist University’s women’s water polo team continues in a strong season as they fearlessly move toward the team’s goal of reaching the No. 15 spot in the nation.

With the pressure of playing top-ranked teams, such as University of Southern California, University of Los Angeles and University of California  at Irvine, the Lancers set their sights on victory.

Jessica Castellano, freshman communication studies and photography double major and women’s water polo player, said facing tough opponents spurs the team on to play at their greatest potential.

“We just click when we are under pressure,” Castellano said.

A February game against California State University at Northridge proved a highlight for the women’s water polo team so far in the season.

The team played a hard-fought game that climaxed into sudden death overtime.

As the pressure escalated, the team “clicked” as Alyssa Birch, kinesiology graduate student and women’s water polo captain, made a goal that clinched a victory for the Lancers.

Nina Young, kinesiology graduate student and women’s water polo captain, said head coach John Miller tells their team, “Respect everyone and fear no one.”

“I like to hide failure from the back of my mind and just focus on the positives,” Castellano said.

The team’s healthy mindset of playing at their best regardless of their opponent comes from being a team that trusts each other.

“It’s choosing the right mindset,” Young said. “Knowing we put in the work in practice and we can trust in that work and each other in tough situations lets us choose positivity and confidence over anything else.”

Young said the team looks forward to games against higher-ranked teams, as it gives them an opportunity to move up in rankings and move closer toward their goal.

The Lancers got a chance Feb. 21 to move up in rankings against No. 15-ranked University of Indiana and No. 20-ranked University of Michigan. Both games proved tough as the Lancers were defeated 14-11 by Indiana and lost by one point against Michigan.

The team has reached the halfway point in this season and has a won-loss record of 7-8.

“We didn’t ease into the season,” Castellano said. “We just started out strong. I feel like we have a lot of momentum right now because we have been doing so well and we have been really determined and we have been working reallyhard in practice and games,” she continued.

The team continues with this momentum in the Claremont Convergence Tournament, March 7, and again at a home game against Bucknell University, March 11.

About Hannah Burnett

Lifestyle Editor

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