Tigers prepare to claim OEC gold

By Nicholas Peralta

As a near perfect season comes to a close, Riverside City College’s women’s water polo team prepares, once again, to stake claim to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) championship.

RCC’s women’s water polo team went 21-2 this season, signifying a successful 2017 campaign. With the season now in the rearview, one of the best teams in RCC’s history now looks ahead to Orange Empire Conference championships and beyond.

Multiple players on the team this season have been contributing factors to the  success seen in the water this season such as Josceline Godinez, Megan Upton, Katy Peterson and California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) Female Athlete of the Month Hannah McCarley. Head coach Doug Finfrock has taken notice of this year’s staggeringly star studded roster and believes it has bred one of the best teams he has seen in his 15 years coaching at RCC.

“This team is a different kind of team,” said coach Finfrock. “We’re not star-studded. We have a lot of girls who do a great job. Because of that, I think it makes us a challenging team to beat because any game we can have any girl step up and score the goals for us. We’re not a one track to team where you just have to shut down one girl to beat us. You shut down one I got two others who will step up and put the ball in the back of the net.”

At the helm of potentially historic team for RCC, coach Finfrock sees in their winning record a solid base in which to build up confidence. But that hasn’t deterred him from recognizing the struggles that are still to come now that team is proceeding into the postseason.

“I don’t like to lose,” says coach Finfrock. “And I think that the team has the same philosophy. We may hate losing more than we enjoy winning. But our record doesn’t mean that much. What’s going to matter is these next three weekends. We have conference championships, and that’s crucial to setting ourselves up for having a good shot at regional championships. The top two teams at regionals go to state. And if you’re not at state you can’t win state. So the records nice, it’s good, but we have a lot of work to do and these next few weeks will really dictate how successful this season is.”

Freshman standout McCarley, in her analysis of the 2017 campaign knows that the team has shown exceptional ability. She also believes that even their winning record should not reflect or encompass their potential. Though the team did suffer two defeats, both losses were scored with the Tigers losing by only one point each game.

“Personally, I think our record should be better.” said McCarley. “We had a really tight grasp on both of those games. But our record does not define our team at all.”

Coach Finfrock had a different view on the losses as he saw both defeats as an opportunity for his team to grow.

“Those losses were necessary for this team,” said coach Finfrock. “They were humbling and allowed the girls to refocus and not begin to think to highly of themselves. As much as I hate to lose there is such a thing as a good loss. Being undefeated isn’t something we talk about a lot. If it ever happens we’d be thrilled to have it. But it’s not the end goal. The end goal is the state title.”

Another key player that has helped pilot this team to success is team co-captain Megan Upton. A sophomore attacker that saw last season’s team excel all the way to a state championship against Santa Barbara, Upton is elated at the potential her current team has to possibly attain another championship.

“Beating Santa Barbara was huge.” said Upton. “Last season in state we took them into double overtime. It was insane. It was such a tight game, so to come back this season and beat them in both games, in regulation, we proved our point I think.”

The Tigers have clearly been a playoff staple under Finfrock, who is preparing his team for the OEC tournament which takes place at Cypress College on Nov. 3.

“With this team we’re trying to go day to day, game to game. I know where I would love to end up at the end of the year. And that’s back in the water with the girls celebrating a state championship. But there are so many steps that we still have to take even though we’re in the last three weeks of the season. If they execute and play like they should, I think we’ll be at the state tournament again.”

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