by Anastasia Marks
Beginning in July with the Tahoe Lake Tournament, the boys’ water polo season begins earlier than most Villanova sports. With almost three months of preseason training before September, the team is trained and ready long before their first game.
Under the leadership of coaches Jermaine Britton and Leah Walters, the varsity team opened the season strong, finishing first place at the Pioneer Valley Tournament in Santa Maria. This victory included a 7-6 sudden death overtime win in the championship game over Nipomo High School. “This team had pretty good chemistry and was fairly balanced,” Coach Britton said regarding the tournament. “They showed some resilience as we were able to win a tournament despite losing the first game of it.”
Headed by senior captains Joseph Griffen and Ryan Pierson, the varsity water polo team finished with a record of 10-8, opening with a win against Channel Islands and including the ever-important home win against crosstown rival: Nordhoff High School. With this year’s powerhouse team, the expectations were high for the season. Coach Britton considered the team’s overall performance and shared his opinions.
“Unfortunately this was one of the most competitive leagues this season, and we just fell a little short,” said Coach Britton regarding their record. However, his comments did exude positivity about his players. “[My favorite part of coaching is] personality; whether they have some success or not, they are the same goofy group of guys that are fun to be around.” One of Coach Britton’s most important philosophies has been the fact that his athletes are well-rounded, being able to play sports and maintain their grades. Sophomore Cameron Brock, a veteran of the junior varsity team, talked about how water polo has affected his performance as a student. “It took a toll on my grades as a freshman,” Brock said, “but I later was able to get more organized with my time and was ultimately able to juggle school and sports and [learned] to be successful in both.”
An important pillar of water polo is teamwork and the ability to win and lose as a unit. Since Coach Britton has worked to ingrain that idea into his players, it seems to have settled well on the whole team. Brock explained how unity, a value that Villanova holds to the highest standard, is one of the most important parts of playing water polo. “This season we became more of a family,” Brock explained. “We bonded over just about anything from a nicely executed play to a play that failed miserably. We may not have won as much this year, but it was by far more enjoyable.”
After developing such a strong bond, watching players move on and their team change is difficult for many players. This year, with the varsity team losing six of their senior players, the end is especially bittersweet. Joseph Griffen, who finished his final season with 170 saves, has been playing as goalie alongside his co-captain for four years. Griffen reflects on his time at Villanova and how water polo has shaped his experiences. “I’m going to miss going down to the pool deck every day,” Griffen said thoughtfully. “It was fun to be playing games with these guys, and I’m sad that I’m not going to be doing it again.”
The varsity, JV, and fresh/soph teams practiced hard for five months; JV finished with a record of 4-10, and fresh/soph finished with a record of 5-5. Varsity’s top scorer was Luke Peterson, a sophomore with 44 goals. Junior varsity’s was freshman Alex Trottno with 30 goals.
Ryan Pierson, senior co-captain, finished his final season of Villanova water polo with 37 goals. Pierson, who has also been playing water polo for four years, talked about how water polo has changed his time at Villanova for the better. “These guys are some of the closest since I was a freshman,” he said appreciatively. “Everyone’s positive. Even though the season had a poor outcome, we’ve gotten some of the best achievements we’ve had in a while.” Although Pierson was disappointed about the team missing playoffs, he talked about how water polo has helped him grow and taught him a lot about teamwork. Pierson shared a final quote, which he thought reflected one of the best lessons he learned from playing water polo for four years: “Together we are strong; separate we are nothing.”