By Mike Meraz
By Mike Meraz
The women’s water polo team of Riverside City College just finished up the regular season undefeated for the second consecutive year.
The Tigers now enter into the Orange empire conference as its No. 1 ranked team with a record of 27-0, and 6-0 in the conference.
However, with having an undefeated record and a No. 1 seed, comes an added incentive for other teams to play well against you.
“It’s definitely an added pressure,” said head coach David Almquist, “But we can use that as motivation as well.”
The sky’s the limit for this Tiger’s team, who are now looking to dominate in the regional and state tournaments after easily winning the conference tournament with a 15-3 win over Fullerton, and an 11-6 win over Santa Ana.
They now advance to the Southern California regionals at Golden West College.
The state tournament will be soon to follow if the Tigers can make it through regionals.
“We have our hardest games coming up. State will be very tough,” Almquist said.
Depth is certainly not an issue for this team, as they have 16 girls on the team, 10 of which are sophomores. The team is also packed with all stars.
Sophomore Melissa de Jonckheere, a returning All-American, is 12 goals away from RCC’s single season record for goals scored.
Sophomore Jennifer Grutz, a transfer from Cal State Monterey, was named MVP of the Long Beach state tournament.
The team has been averaging fewer than five goals per game throughout the entire season thanks in large part to goalie Jessica McLaughlin.
In addition to earning conference MVP honors, she was selected to last year’s All-American team as a freshman.
With such a wealth of talent, it is no wonder the coaching staff has high expectations for their team.
“We’re going to go undefeated” Almquist said, “It’ll all come down to character at state.”
Not only do the Tigers have their undefeated season and hopes of winning state to be excited about, they also have the approval of a new aquatic junction to look forward to.
“This team has never really had a true home game,” Almquist said. All of their games had to be played at a pool across riverside because the pools at RCC are too small for water polo.
However, all of that is going to change very soon as the new pool will be Olympic size.
“It’s definitely going to be state of the art,” Almquist said, “It’ll be really nice for the players and students.”
If all goes according to plan, the water polo teams can begin having the true home games they deserve soon.
Construction on the new aquatics center is scheduled to begin in November of 2009.