1-loss girls’ water polo celebrates success in league 

October 21, 2023 — by Richard Fan
Photo by Bryan Zhao

Junior goalie Lera Polyakova gets ready to block the shot on goal during a home game against Homestead on Sept. 26. 

The team attributes their success to a positive team dynamic. 

The girls’ water polo team has concluded their season in first place with an overwhelmingly successful league record of 11-1 as of Oct. 20. They won every game in the El Camino League except for a 7-2 loss away to Mountain View on Oct. 3. 

With a 9-3 home win against Santa Clara on Oct. 19, a 10-6 win away against Homestead on Oct. 17, a 10-2 home win against Milpitas on Oct. 12, a 9-7 win away against Cupertino on Oct. 10 and a 9-4 home win against Wilcox on Oct. 5, the team was in position to advance to SCVAL league finals held on Oct. 24, Oct. 25 and Oct. 27. Those matches will determine whether the Falcons will qualify for CCS. 

“What went well this season was probably our mindset, thinking that we would go into games ready to give our everything,” junior wing Cassidy Coghlan said. 

Cassidy also partly attributes their success to the team’s familiarity with head coach Michael Allegretti’s coaching style. Because the team has worked with him for the past 2 years, they have found a sense of stability, in contrast to previous years when their coaches changed every season. 

Having a highly skilled roster this year also contributed to their results — five players on the team play club water polo outside of school. One of them is junior goalie Lera Polyakova, who said that joining San Jose Express Water Polo in the spring “made [her] more aware of her surroundings during games” and strengthened her skillset as goalie.

“An important part of being a goalie is having experience, so you know what to look for when people shoot,” Polyakova said. “Club gave me a lot of that experience from all the tournaments I attended and the Junior Olympics I took part in.”

Another powerful player, freshman point Riona Coghlan, has found that the team’s high morale has helped them win. She noted that the team always has a loud bench; during games, the girls constantly scream encouragement to each other and count down the shot clock, which helps to increase the team’s energy. 

Players have also developed strong team chemistry by organizing outings together and bonding outside the pool. According to Riona, this was especially beneficial for the JV players to get to know others during preseason. 

As the date of the league finals draws closer, the whole team is continuing to work hard together to improve. During their remaining practices, they are working on passing, shooting and running plays. 

“We’re really excited to advance to league finals, and it’s going to be a really fun time playing at another level as a team and hopefully taking home a few wins,” Cassidy said.

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