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Leopards look to make a splash in SCIAC

During their final week of practice before the first preseason games, head coach Alex La and assistant coach Cody Bell call the women’s water polo team together to discuss the plays. The team will open its season with two back-to-back games Saturday at Las Flores Park in La Verne against Concordia, at 9 a.m. and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 11:30 a.m. / photo by Katherine Careaga

Christian Orozco
Sports Editor

Spring has begun and along with a new semester the season also brings spring athletics.

One team to watch out for this spring is the women’s water polo team.

The Leopards only lost one senior last year and welcomed six new players to the team.

“We’re a lot deeper this year, we’re more athletic and this is going to be an exciting year for us,” head coach Alex La said.

The Leopards finished in seventh place last season in the Southern California Intercolleg­iate Conference with a 2-8 conference record.

La is entering his fourth season as the women’s water polo coach.

He also recently finished his four

th season as the men’s water polo head coach this past fall.

Last season the Leopards were one of the youngest teams in the SCIAC and coming into this season youth is still on their side.

“They’re still young, they’ve only aged one year,” La said.

With a young team La expects some key returners to make a huge impact in the pool leadership-wise.

Sophomore utility Bethie Ross is expected to take on the leadership role along with senior utility Erika Vargas and sophomore center Ashley Forsberg

The Leopards hope to get a lot more leadership from more seniors this year also.

“As an upperclassman I think I can help the freshmen adjust to the different level of playing,” senior center Brianna DiCarlo said.

“Also, I want to lead them anyway I can in and out of the pool.”

La has had to deal with the difficulty of not having his full team during off season practices.

The Leopards have 16 players on their roster, but five of them are currently on the swim team.

“Both of them (swimming and water polo) require different techniques and strength, but then again swim helps me stay in shape for (water) polo and gives me the endurance I need for (water) polo,” said sophomore Samary Morales who is currently on the swim team and will participate in water polo after swim season.

“Most of them haven’t played in an actual game in a year,” La said.

“And then after our first game we don’t play again for another two weeks.”

“This year we have a lot of great talent coming in. Most of the talent is freshman and a couple transfers,” DiCarlo said.

“This year I hope to be a bigger

threat in the SCIAC conference and change our reputation that has been placed upon the team for many years before I joined.”

With so many new players, La is focusing on creating team chemistry.

“My main goal is to create more team unity,” La said.

“We have local girls, girls from up north and just girls from all over and there is a lot of different styles. They might not be ready right now, but by the end of the season we should be a top contender.”

“They all have a lot of ability, but it just depends on how fast they grasp the concept and the strategies,” La said.

The Leopards have plenty of upside to their team and are full of potential.

“We have a long way to go,” La said.

“There’s going to be a lot of teaching, but we are going to be more competitive and hopefully finish in the top four and I think that this team is capable of doing that.”

The Leopards will begin their season on Saturday against Concordia and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Las Flores Park.

Christian Orozco can be reached at christian.orozco@laverne.edu.

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