By Christian Lopez
It’s been nothing but smooth sailing for the Riverside City College women’s water polo team this season. Thanks to their aquatic stars Katy Peterson and Megan Upton.
Peterson, Upton, and their teammates have jetted off to a great start with a 13-1 overall and 2-0 conference record in the first half of the season. The Tigers got off to a roaring start with a 12-2 blowout win over American River College where Peterson was responsible for two goals and a steal.
With a 1-0 start, the team then took their talents to San Joaquin Delta where they left victorious at 8-2 with Peterson leading her team by scoring five points for her four goals and an assist while Upton was credited for one point with an assist and a steal.
With momentum on their side they then traveled to Santa Ana College where they annihilated the Dons 26-2 with Peterson putting on a solid performance offensively with three goals and two assists for a total of five points. Upton notched one goal, three assists and also acquired three steals.
The Tigers then went on to continue their dominance with a blowout win against Allan Hancock College where Peterson and Upton again put up impressive numbers with Peterson being credited with five points by posting one goal, four assists, and three steals while Upton had three points with one goal, two assists, and four steals.
The women’s water polo team did not have their first close contest until they took on Santa Barbara City College on September 16 for their seventh game of the season. Both teams got off to a slow start with neither team scoring in the first quarter.
By the end of the second quarter the score was 3-1 with Santa Barbara in the lead.
Once the third quarter began, the Tigers came back to life to mount a come from behind 5-4 victory.
After a close call against Santa Barbara, the women’s water polo team returned to form with convincing victories over Saddleback and Citrus College. However, the team was handed their first loss in a closely contested 8-7 defeat where they once again went head to head against San Joaquin Delta.
After suffering the loss, the team rallied together to defeat Orange Coast College 10-9 while Peterson posted five points for four goals, one assist and garnered two steals as well. They then went on to have three consecutive wins in low scoring affairs against San Joaquin Delta 5-3, Long Beach 6-2, and Santa Barbara 6-4.
“We’re not a team that likes to lose.” Peterson said. ”To know that we could have gone in and played a little better in that game, I think we put our energy toward our next couple games and get us back to where we need to be.”
The season is now halfway spent and although it’s far from over, the women’s water polo team have been making it look easy, partly because of the big numbers their offense puts up. In eight of their 13 wins, the Tigers have defeated their opponents by at least five points.
“I feel like there is a lot of work that goes into the season that a lot of people don’t see,” said Upton. “They see the games but they don’t see the fifteen practices a week that we do.”
Teammates Upton and Megan Bannes are ranked at No.1 and four, respectively, in assists, according to oecsports.com.
Peterson also is currently ranked No. 6 while teammate Kate Fox is ranked at No. 8 in goals scored.
Another reason why the team has found such success is because the opposing teams simply cannot stand up to RCC’s defense.
Sophomore Dafne Garcia, who is currently ranked No. 1 in steals, according to oecsports, has not provided many opportunities for her opponents to score.
Instead, she provides her own teammates with an opportunity to and extend their lead. Even if the opposing teams did get that rare opportunity to put points up on the board, there would still be another obstacle in their way.
Goalie Hannah McCarley is ranked No. 1 in goals blocked with a 71.6 save percentage and is also ranked fourth in goals allowed. With an offense that scores often and a goalie in McCarley who does not allow many in return, this team has the potential to be one of the greatest in the school’s history.
Head coach Doug Finfrock has lead a phenomenal team and sees the obvious potential at greatness this team has, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to see where this already great team can continue to improve and coaching the only way he knows how.
“Our defense is good but not good enough,” Finfrock said. “At one point we had a twelve quarter stretch where we only gave up nine points so that’s pretty impressive but there is still plenty of room for improvement even though they were impressive during that stretch. I think we’ve got to work on our defense in order to be successful in the end.”
Despite stern criticism, Coach Finfrock is adamant that this team can maintain their nigh historic season
“The way they played four strong games in that tournament and managed to win some close games, I have a lot of confidence in them. They play hard for one another, they really come together as a unit and not as individuals and I feel like that is going to be key for them to succeed.”