By Dylan King
The Riverside City College Tigers men’s water polo team gave a valiant effort, but were unable to hold off Orange Coast College in a 8-7 road loss Sept. 28.
The loss brings RCC to an overall record of 9-3, with a 1-1 record in Orange Empire Conference (OEC) play.
Despite losing a close game to conference rival Orange Coast, head coach Jason Northcott refuses to allow a minor setback to derail the team’s cohesive ambition that continues to evolve through the course of this season.
“(The game against Orange Coast) was a difficult game,” Northcott said. “(We played) in a smaller pool, it wasn’t what we normally use for games, like swimming at the conference regionals and championship games.”
Northcott said the issue regarding regulation pool size has been discussed with other coaches recently.
“We have a rule in our bylaws that state the (pools) have to be 25 meters by 25 yards, like the (pools) here at RCC,” he said. “The coaches get together every year to vote on this measure, but what it also says is that the pools have to be regulation size, ‘whenever available’, so we’re trying to vote to get that part removed (from the bylaw),” Northcott said.
In spite of the obstacles the team has faced, freshman goalkeeper Kristopher McVeigh and sophomore utility Kyle Christian have managed to stand out as key contributors for the Tigers this season, and they believe the goal of winning a state championship is within their reach.
“I don’t want to sound pompous, but I think we have a pretty good shot this year,” McVeigh said. “We would like to go as far as we can, and we think we have a pretty good chance of going far.”
Christian, who Northcott considers a team leader, has a fierce belief in himself and his team’s ability to respond to pressure situations.
“Coach (Northcott) told me I’m one of the leaders of the team, so I have to set an example for the younger guys,” Christian said. “(My responsibility) is to the lead the team on a path to a successful season.”
Strategically, the coach points to defensive effort and conditioning as the engine that makes the team function at a high level.
“Our scoring is predicated on our defense,” Northcott said about his game plan. “We’re a fast breaking team. Our counter attack opens up so many scoring opportunities, we just have to trust that our system, our training, and our players are going to get the job done.”
Northcott relies heavily on the production of Christian to galvanize player chemistry, and the sophomore delivers more often than not.
“Kyle is probably one of the most versatile players in the state,” Northcott said. “He can go to center and dominate because of his dynamic play. He can play on the perimeter and beat people off of the drive because of how quick he is. His defense is great because he can force teams into bad passes, where they turn the ball over. He has the ability to take over games.”
RCC won 14-9 on Oct. 7 when they played against Diablo Valley at RCC.