Jacqui White, Sports Editor
After a rough stretch as a program, the Utica College women’s water polo team is looking to get their first win in three years when the season starts on March 9.
Even though their team of nine girls is still considered small for a college water polo team, the Pioneers are hopeful they will win at least one match this season. One thing that might give them extra motivation to win is that they received 16 points in the Receiving Votes category in the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s poll for Division III teams.
With their last win coming against Penn St. Bernard in 2015 by a score of 5-4, the Pioneers will be looking to their senior players to help get a win this season.
Senior Lara McNamara has been on the team for four years.
“I joined the team freshman year,” McNamara said. “I played water polo in high school beforehand. We’re trying to encourage everyone to learn. Besides a few girls, most of the team has been playing water polo for just a few years.”
McNamara said that the team is looking to grow off of each other and try to work out everyone’s weaknesses to have a successful season this year.
“We strive more for team goals rather than individual goals,” McNamara said. “Our goal this season is to work well together in the water instead of just focusing on points.”
McNamara explained that, since she is still swimming with the swim team, she has not been able to go to as many practices for the water polo team.
“I think they might be practicing a bit differently this season,” she said. “Since there are a few new girls this season, they do have to start out with the basic stuff.”
Another senior player who is looking to help the team as much as possible is Michalyn Wrinkler. With her 198 saves in 2016, 190 in 2017 and 149 in 2018, Wrinkler is looking to stop as many shots as possible.
“One thing that might help our team in the coming years is that the athletic department is looking to revamp the water polo department,” Wrinkler explained. “They’re going to add more coaches and try to get a full-time coach.”
Wrinkler played water polo in high school for two years, where she was recruited for the team by a previous coach.
“We get a new coach every two years,” she said. “On paper, Erin Knight [also the men’s and women’s swim and dive coach] is our head coach, but we’re always taught by graduate assistant coaches. Our coach now is Rachel Clauss. She’s been doing great as the coach, but we’ll be losing her after this season.”
Wrinkler said that something that might help the team this year is the fact that, even though a lot of the girls are on the swimming team, they will be in shape for the water polo team.
“Six or seven girls on the water polo team actually came to school to just be on the swimming team,” Wrinkler explained.
Wrinkler explained that one thing the team sometimes struggles with is that they do not follow how the other teams do in their division.
“We don’t really know the caliber of the other team we’re playing against until we get in the pool to play them,” Wrinkler said. “I want to win a game this season.”