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Leopards look to stay afloat in SCIAC

Sophomore center Viken Huening squares off and scores a goal against senior utility player Daniel Hargis during a practice scrimmage at Las Flores Park in La Verne. As the fall sports seasons begin, the men’s water polo team heads into its 15th season of play. Coming off a 6-24 season last year, the Leopards look to improve their record. / photo by Hunter Cole

Sophomore center Viken Huening squares off and scores a goal against senior utility player Daniel Hargis during a practice scrimmage at Las Flores Park in La Verne. As the fall sports seasons begin, the men’s water polo team heads into its 15th season of play. Coming off a 6-24 season last year, the Leopards look to improve their record. / photo by Hunter Cole

Alana Glenn
Staff Writer

After almost clinching a championship title at the end of last season, the men’s water polo team is making improvements and holding high expectations for their new season.

The team has returned to the pool for the 2013 season after finishing with a 6-24 overall record last season and a 5-8 record in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Confer­ence play.

After a loss to Redlands in the final match of the SCIAC Championships last season, the team holds high hopes for this year.

Among the hopefuls is senior attacker Bosko Dimic. Dimic is one of three seniors on the team.

“We’re ready to shock a lot of people,” Dimic said. “It’s a young team with a lot of talent and we can do some good stuff this season.”

Getting the team ready for a good season not only means improving on technicality, but chemistry inside and outside of the pool as well.

“Team bonding is the most important thing,” junior center Tyler Hunt said.

Getting a team that will be able to work together and accomplish together is one of the components the Leopard’s always aim to improve for a new season.

“Understanding the defense and the offense is the second highest hope for the season,” Hunt said. “Our goal is to be able to apply that to our vision of the game, get wins and rank higher in SCIAC than last year.”

The men’s team wants to improve from last season, but no good season can be complete without its best players in the pool.

“Academic tops everything,” Hunt said.

Many of the men have achieved at a high level in the classroom and have earned honors as students.

In 2012, six of the team’s players were recognized to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-Academic Team.

Hard work brought the men all the way to the conference championship game last year.

An 11-4 loss in the last match of the season placed the Leopards eighth overall.

The Leopards are entering their new season with one major goal in mind, to push themselves farther than their previous season and win SCIAC.

“We’re really hopeful to win SCIAC,” sophomore center Viken Huening said. “If we win, we get a chance to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships.”

Huening is one of eight talented sophomores looking to make a difference for the Leopards this year.

Many of this season’s players want to exceed expectations by achieving more this season than they did at the end of the 2012 season.

One of the highlights of last season was a 15-11 upset victory over Division I opponent Santa Clara as part of the Aggie Shootout in Davis, Calif.

The Leopards opened their season this past weekend against a pair of Division I opponents with a 20-3 loss to UC Santa Barbara followed by a 26-4 loss to Pepperdine.

La Verne is currently 0-2 in the season, but hopes to get back on winning track.

The Leopards’ next game is at 9 a.m. Friday against UC Irvine at Las Flores Park in La Verne.

They also play at 4:30 p.m. today against Cal Baptist as their first of three matches as part of the Inland Empire Classic.

SCIAC conference play will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Whittier.

Alana Glenn can be reached at alana.glenn@laverne.edu.

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