The water polo team at Utica College has not won a match since 2015, when they beat Penn St. Behrend 5-4. Despite starting their season off at 0-9 this year, the team is still hoping to win at least one match before the season ends this month.
Senior utility player Alisha Kelly explained that even though her team is 0-9 this season, she does not think they are doing that bad.
“This season is actually one of our best seasons,” Kelly said.
Kelly said that, despite the record book, the fact that two of their games have ended with a deficit of three goals or less difference shows that the team is still trying to pull out a win this year.
So far this season, Kelly has six goals and one assist, as well as five steals, giving her a total of seven points.
“We’re having closer games this year,” Kelly explained. “One game, we lost 8-11.”
The Pioneers lost 11-8 against Connecticut College on March 10, which was the second game of the day for them. For that game, Kelly scored one goal. The first game of the day, against Washington and Jefferson College, the Pioneers lost 12-10.
One of the things that Kelly thinks that could be leading to the Pioneers losing all of their matches is a breakdown in communication between teammates.
“When we’re in the pool, it’s really loud, so it’s hard to hear exactly what everyone is saying,” Kelly said.
She also explained that, even if the teammates do hear what the others are saying, the communication issues can stem from them not saying the correct things, so it could lead to more problems for them during matches.
Kelly said that one of the games that she and the team are looking forward to this season would be the senior game, which is coming up on April 5.
Fellow senior utility player Ashley Flint agreed with Kelly about how the season looks compared to how they feel about it.
“On paper, our record doesn’t look great,” Flint said.
She explained that if someone were to come watch a game of them playing this year compared to a game last year, the differences would be noticeable.
“One of the things we’re struggling with is that the team as a whole doesn’t have a lot of experience compared to other teams that we play,” Flint explained.
Flint said that for some of the girls on the team, never playing water polo before college has made it harder for them to beat teams that have more experience than they do.
So far on the season, Flint has four goals and eight assists, giving her 12 points. Flint also has four steals so far this year.
Even though Flint does not think the team currently has a lot of experience, she does believe that the team will gain more throughout the season.
“As the year goes on, we’ll gain more experience,” Flint said.
One of the factors that Flint thinks is helping the team regain control of the season is the fact that they are constantly learning new skills during the season.
“Knowing the fundamentals is just as important,” she said. “Working on more things as the season goes will help.”
The team has had to travel across the country for almost every game they have played. In fact, it has been years since they’ve played a game in Utica but that is about to change this season.
“Our senior game is actually our first home match in five years,” Flint said.
The last time the Pioneers water polo team had a home meet was in 2014, when they went on to beat Monmouth College 14-8.
“I’m hoping that with the fan base and it being the first home match in five years, we can build a lot of spirit,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll come out with a win.”