Although the Owls have a 7-6 record this season, Citrus women’s water polo head coach Jennifer Spalding said the team is playing much better than their record shows.
“When you look at our record, it looks like we’re not doing very good, but we’re losing to the top teams in the state and we’re only losing by one or two (goals),” Spalding said. “We are usually up by one or two goals heading into half and then we get a little tired because our starting six players are playing a lot.”
With 21 players and 3-1 conference record, Citrus is ranked sixth in the state. This ranking is established by the coaches poll, where water polo coaches throughout the state rank the top teams.
Spalding said she believes their success comes from practices and their difficult game schedule.
“We’ve been practicing a lot more mornings, which has helped and I’ve created a much tougher schedule,” Spalding said. “It says a lot about our girls when they come within one goal of beating one of the top teams in our conference.”
Sophomore utility player Chloe Barrocas has seen practices become tougher since last year.
“We’re challenging much harder teams this year than we would have last year,” Barrocas said. “Practices have been more mentally challenging and it makes us really think so were able to apply it to games. We have a lot more confidence than we did before.”
Barrocas has helped the Owls this season with 20 goals and 28 steals.
Sophomore utility player Megan Card said she agrees with her teammate Barrocas that they are more prepared.
“Everytime we go into a game we know how we can put it away,” Card said.
Even with that mentality, Card said that winning is not everything to her team.
“Our team loves to win,” Card said. “If we play a really good game and lose still, it’s mentally a win for us. One of our best games of the season so far was against Golden West. Even though it was a loss in the end, mentally we were ecstatic and took it as a huge leap forward in our gameplay.”
Improving is not the only effort the water polo team has been focused on. During October, the team will wear pink caps and pink ribbons on their game suits to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Spalding said raising awareness for breast cancer holds a special place in her heart, because her grandmother has breast cancer.
“I just want to recognize her and say thank you for being so strong and being such a positive role model,” Spalding said. “I’d love to give her flowers and take a team picture with her.”
Last year, the team supported a teammate’s family friend who had brain cancer, honoring her before the game, gave her flowers and had a team cheer for her when they scored any goals.
“It was such a great thing to do that and I want to continue doing it every year,” Spalding said.
The team will be supporting a breast cancer survivor when they play Ventura at 3:30 p.m on Oct. 11 at the Citrus Aquatics Center.