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By Cierra Martinez @CIERRAMARIE26

Families and students gathered together on a warm morning at Las Positas, Friday Sept. 2 to watch the first games of the men’s water polo season. The men looked to start off the day with a victory over their opponent, but it wasn’t meant to be. They played two games and came up empty both times.

Before Friday’s games, Robert Arroyo, LPC men’s head water polo coach said, “We are playing against American River, which is a really good team, so I expect it to be a difficult matchup for us, but most importantly to see how we respond from that whether we win or lose.”

In the first matchup against American River, the Hawks didn’t come close to scoring until the end of the third quarter. American River dominated most of the game, scoring 18 times.  The Hawks scored one more point at the end of the fourth quarter but the damage was already done. The final score was 18-2.

Communication is key in water polo, and throughout Friday’s games Arroyo could constantly be heard yelling, directing and encouraging his athletes to strive harder,
“Go all the way across! Go! Go! Go!” Arroyo shouted to his athletes.

Arroyo’s main focus is teaching his players to learn from their mistakes, and improve upon them.

“I try and encourage the players to get the best out of them and be able to recognize improvement and/ or effort consistently,” he said. “I try to encourage them in a positive aspect and get them to turn it around.”

The Hawks were put to the test once more that day, facing a stubborn Santa Rosa team. They were able to have a better outing this time around, gaining momentum at some points and improving on defense but the strength of Santa Rosa ultimately outweighed the Hawks.

The Hawks played catch-up the entire game. They were behind after the first quarter and were not able to put any points on the board until the end of the second and third quarters. The Hawks surprised Santa Rosa as they began to catch up at the end of the third quarter. They were close to redemption in their second game, but time was not on their side. They lost their second game against Santa Rosa as well, with a final score of 11-7.

Returning player and team captain Jeremy Usedom was disappointed, but hopeful in light of the day’s losses.

“Just like anything else, you have to work and practice as much as possible, if not more so, outside of team practices and games, so when it comes time for the next game we are more prepared and ready to go.”

The team will look to Usedom for guidance this year along with fellow returning players Chris Buckman and Alexander Newman.

“He is going to be a key focal point for us this year. He does a great job in leading the team both within practices as well as outside,” Arroyo said of Usedom.

Jason Craighead, the assistant coach who helps organize the men’s water polo activities and paperwork, also contributes a lot to strategy and motivating the players. “He’s a big part of our success,” Arroyo said.

With the new fall semester beginning, coach Arroyo has big plans as well as expectations for the team.

“I hope to improve as the season goes on, and be able to become competitive with some of the top teams as well as growing as a program. It’s good for the athletes to see what we could possibly accomplish with a lot of hard work.”

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