For the first time since 2018 the Las Positas College women’s water polo team takes to the water a full season. Aside from an abbreviated season in 2021, another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has not had enough players to compete.
But fall 2023 is different.
“We have a full roster. We actually have the most athletes that we’ve ever had on any team since the inception of our program for the women’s side,” Coach Kate Bennett said.
Numbers haven’t been the only challenge the program has faced. This season has already seen struggles with eligibility and injury. Starter Jaymie Helm suffered a broken finger that prevented her from playing. Camryn Clendenen also suffered an undisclosed injury in the last game.
These injuries and a few eligibility delays gave the team no choice but to cancel one of its first games.
Even with these challenges, LPC participated in a mini tournament it hosted. Las Positas went on to defeat Santa Rosa 18-10. Makenzie Duffin led the team with 8 goals, followed by Monica Ureno with 5 goals. LPC went 1-1, suffering a 13-5 defeat against the Diablo Valley Vikings.
“We’ve only known each other for a week, so we were not prepared,” Bennett said of the mini tournament played Sept. 1.
This tournament served as a learning experience for the new players on the team. It was a taste of how tough the sport can really be. Bennett explained that the win was a “morale boost” for the inexperienced team. She hopes this will motivate them to work harder and get more victories under their belt.
The team is very new to the sport, with some still learning the basics of how to swim during a game. There are, however, a few players expected to lead the team, including Monica Ureno, Lilian White Erin Cain and Jeorgia Ruegsegger.
The team recently selected Ureno as the captain. She has been with the program since graduating from Foothill High School in 2020.
Bennet said Ureno has been with the program the longest and shows the attributes of a team captain: leadership, accountability, dedication and motivation.
“Monica Ureno knows the program, she knows the culture and she’s perpetuating that in a very great way, and getting all the others on board.” Bennett said.
The team is excited to get the season underway. They blast music every practice. The energy is palpable for the first time in five years. Fall 2023 is different.
Omar Mir is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @omarmirr22.